“Vote, vote, vote” announces every politician, news channel and history professor.
Since deciding the leader of one of the most powerful democracies in the free world sounded pretty important, I decided to do just that. It wouldn’t be that hard; I would go home that Monday night and come back on Tuesday morning after casting my ballot. It seemed fairly simple to do even with the SEPTA strike on top of the usual train delays. Unless, of course, your professor decided to schedule a midterm at 8 a.m. on Election Day. Fine, no sweat — I’ll just get an absentee ballot.
Except for the fact that the whole absentee ballot system is about as transparent as a brick wall. Looking at all of the people that qualify for an absentee ballot necessitates going through a massive list of things that don’t concern you. It would be easier to say the people that do not need an absentee ballot. The whole process is much more difficult than just voting for your candidate in a booth, making it almost impossible for those that need one but do not have much time on their hands. Shockingly enough, the largest contributors to this group are college students and people in the military. You know, our future innovators and those that literally defend the very nation that propagates this inane system.
Maybe this is why other nations have such a larger voter turnout compared to the United States. It is so much more than that though. The lack of respect and understanding that the presidential election gets ensures that many who would otherwise cast a vote are unable to. It is a rare business that allows its employees even one hour to go cast their vote every two years. Not only do they usually not allow it, many will make you feel bad for even asking for it. The constant “live to work” culture that runs rampant in the United States is absolutely ridiculous, but that is a story for another day.
All of this is enough to make everyone wish that there was just a simple, painless solution that would make the problem go away. Fortunately for America, the rest of the world solved this long before the first modern democracy had even realized it was a problem. They just made it a public holiday or held it on a weekend and moved on. The fact that Columbus, a man who perpetrated a genocide, has his own holiday and Election Day doesn’t seems a little backwards.
With a day set aside, everyone would have nothing better to do than take a few minutes to cast their vote. Or, even better than that, just move the date to the weekend. Then no additional days off have been added and people still have the time to make their voices heard.
Are we so set in our ways that Election Day cannot be changed for the betterment of our future?
It seems that after every election, millions lament the low turnout and are quick to throw the blame around. No one ever really does anything about it though. This ambivalence in effecting real change speaks to the American character as surely as the low numbers do every election. If only 60 percent of the country care who runs it, then it would appear that we collectively fail as a nation.