Voterturnout as a term is used to refer to the total number of entitledvoters who cast their votes during an election day. Eligibility ofvoting varies from one country to another. Low level of voter turnoutis not the desired objective of any election. Many debates havearisen regarding this factor, and this has led to the creation ofmeasures to check on the turnout of voters during an election. Thereare two ways that have been used globally, particularly in the UnitedStates of America, to measure voter turnout. One looks on the numberof registered voters and the other base on the projected voting agepopulation (Newell, Prindle, Riddlesperger, Donovan, Mooney, andSmith, 2012). Registered voters information is brought together fromthe electoral stations in the USA in the first measure. In the secondmeasure, a projection is made basing on the national populationstatistics. However, these methods have several strength andlimitations. Registration is very useful in the USA, and in thiscase, the number of those who are registered would be compared to thenumber to those who cast their vote. In some cases, the records ofregistered voters have raised questions. Using age gives room topredict the potential voters in cases where all barriers in theadministration are removed.
Voterturnout comparison between the USA and other nations brings out avery embarrassing picture of the nation. Despite it having over 80percent of eligible registered voters and another over 80 percent ofprojected voter age population, the level of turnout is still verylow. Within the Organization for Economic Cooperation andDevelopment, it is ranked number 31 out of the 34 nations on voterturnout during national elections (Newell et al., 2012). Its turnoutonly surpasses that of Chile, Japan, and Switzerland. The result hasbeen attributed to the nature of voting being an individual’sresponsibility. It is, therefore, important that necessary measuresbe implemented if the country wants to reach the levels of Belgium,Turkey, and Australia, which have made voting compulsory to everyindividual.
Severalfactors have been attributed to the low level of turnout in the USAby political analysts. One of the reasons is the voluntary votingthe government is not strict to ensure people’s participation inthe political processes thus, voting is an individual’sresponsibility giving room to laxity.
Felondisfranchisement has also been linked to the low number of voters.Among the 31 democracies in the Western world, USA is the only statethat does not allow felons to vote. Though the states do not allowinmates to vote from prison, the right is immediately restored onceout of prison. Other causes include the need for registration and themidweek election date.
Fromthe studies carried out by the Annette Strauss Institute for CivicLife of Texas, it was clear that Texas recorded the lowest number ofvoter turnout in the whole nation during the 2010 elections (Newellet al., 2012). The turnout has been reflected not only in thepresidential elections but also in the state constitutionalamendments and the state elections.
Historically,Texas traditional culture of the Old South heritage does notprioritize taking part in political matters (Newell, 2012). It, also,has a stamped legacy that restricted the accessibility to the ballot.Though the restrictions were faced out they still impact on the livesof the natives. Marginalization is the main issue behind low voterturnout in Texas. The poor have been neglected and are not civilizedon their political responsibilities living the rich to vote. Theseaspects can be addressed by the creation of awareness through civiceducation and also improving the living standards of individuals inTexas.
Newell,C., Prindle, D., Riddlesperger, J., Donovan, T., Mooney, C. andSmith, A. (2012). TexasPolitics.Custom Edition, Cengage Learning.