Tuesday will mark the 114th time Americans will go to the polls and decide who will represent them in Congress -- well, some Americans anyway.National turnout this year is likely to fall in the low 40's to high 30's. The dim, but altogether predictable picture for this year's midterm elections is that less than half of registered voters will participate. If combined with presidential election years, voter participation in the U.S. over the last half-century stands at just over 50 percent.
Are 'We the People' still a democracy when barely half of us regularly participate?
The US ranks 22nd in recent voter turnout when compared to 36 OECD countries. Australia is number one with 93 percent -- but with compulsory voting laws, it's kind of easy to be number one. What about countries where you can't be penalized for not voting? Denmark doesn't have such laws and still ranks number 4 with 87 percent turnout.
But then again, it's easy to place the blame somewhere else isn't it?
Some states, like New Jersey, require voters to join a political party if they want to fully participate in the entire election process. Still others, like Georgia, California, and Texas, don't allow voters to register on election day. In states like Kansas, voters need to mail in an application or go to a county office to register to vote. Hopefully the Internet will reach Kansas soon.
After the Constitutional Convention concluded in 1787, Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked founding father Benjamin Franklin a fairly simple question, "Well, Doctor, what have we got — a Republic or a Monarchy?"
To which he responded:
“A Republic, if you can keep it.”
The individual right to vote is fundamental to maintaining our democratic republic. It is the greatest check and balance on the government and the only one each and everyone has the power to decide. So, on this Tuesday, November 4, remember Dr. Franklin's challenge and go vote!
Image: Polling Judge administering oath (1846) by George Caleb Bingham / Wikimedia Commons