We the Voters This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 28, 2011
“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost,” said our honorable sixth president, John Quincy Adams. This quote dates back to the 1800s, but its message of our liberties as American citizens rings true to this day. Throughout our founding documents – the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights – the American right to suffrage (to vote in nationwide elections) is protected as one of our unalienable privileges.

In both past and present times, the ability to vote in a democratic form of government that was founded to preserve justice and tranquility is treasured across the globe. As citizens, it is our birthright to do so regardless of circumstances or conditions. Despite how valuable and sacred such opportunities are, an appalling 46 percent of eligible voters do not exercise this right because of a variety of reasons, whether it be medical issues, a busy schedule, or an abundance of pure ignorance. Instead of moping over this depressing statistic, we must work to increase voter turnout for the good of our country and its people.

According to recent surveys about the decline of voter turnout, the majority of citizens who are not participating do so because of barriers in the electoral process. To eliminate these, we can incorporate computerized voting both at home and in public locations, extend Election Day to a two-day time period, and remind citizens of their precious opportunity to create a better America by celebrating these days with a national voting festival.

What modern-day device is compact, quick, easy to access, versatile, and a convenient way of doing innumerable tasks? If you answered a computer, you are correct! In modern societies all around the world, humans rely on computers and technology for work, education, and recreation. With a computer, the possibilities are infinite.

Electronic voting is currently used in elections to simplify the voting process; however, countless problems still stand in the way of a decent voter turnout. In addition to the reasons previously mentioned, many non-­voting citizens claim that their delinquence is simply due to an inability to access a voting area, not a lapse in memory or disinterest in the process. Among these are members of our busy working class whom we depend on to keep our economy running.

If votes could be cast online, research shows that voter turnout would increase immensely. Imagine the typical middle school teacher, hustling not only to teach but to balance his own family life. With computerized voting, this teacher would no longer be forced to choose between voting and accomplishing all the necessities of his complicated day. An online ballot is convenient, quick, and available to him not only at home but in his workplace.

Introducing America to new voting methods in the face of a changing world would benefit not just the working class but anyone who regularly comes in contact with a bank, library, or similar public place. The benefits do not end here, fortunately. With online voting, the number of voting locations – and volunteers to staff them – could be decreased. Elderly and disabled people in nursing homes could be aided by their caretakers to vote.

Of course, the threats of hacking, identity theft, and technology problems exist. Online ballots would need to include safeguards to verify identity and certification by requiring the voter to submit personal information. But this technology could be developed using the funds previously devoted to staffing and maintaining so many voting locations. Using technology, we could update and improve the democratic process.

The second part of my plan to increase abysmal voter turnout is to extend the time allotted for the presidential election from one to two days. By lengthening the voting period, technology issues can be dealt with to ensure successful voting and reduce stress of anxious voters and hardworking government employees. No longer will people be able to say, “I simply forgot to vote!” Now there will always be the chance to fulfill your duty as an American citizen – without hassle or pressure.

Despite the promises of improved convenience and efficiency, these solutions alone will not fix the problem of poor turnout. Citizens must embrace the loftier ideals of voting: to protect and celebrate our birthright to change the world we live in. Our government is entirely what we make it. Taking part in an act that millions of people elsewhere can only dream of should be cherished; voting is what allows American ideals to continue to thrive. To promote the spirit behind the act of casting a ballot, a nationwide voting festival should be held during the two-day presidential election. Not only would a celebration help people remember to vote, but they would be reminded to appreciate the history behind the vote and all those who fought for this right.

No one can deprive Americans of their right to vote but Americans themselves. To celebrate this sacred tradition and entitlement, we must come together in a devoted effort to restore our ideals and appreciation of what early Americans fought to protect. Voting is an essential part of our freedom. Even though the importance of elections has not changed in the past two centuries, the resources and new technology available to us certainly have. By combining computerized voting with extended election periods and commemoration with a voting festival, we can empower and energize all U.S. citizens.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Susan Anthony said...
Oct. 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm
In 2008, voter turnout in the 15 battleground states averaged seven points higher than in the 35 non-battleground states. If presidential campaigns now did not ignore more than 200,000,000 of 300,000,000 Americans, one would reasonably expect that voter turnout would rise in 80% of the country that is currently ignored by presidential campaigns. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). Ever... (more »)
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