In a democratic republic, we control our government largely by voting.
That’s why it’s a so sad to see the low voter turnout in so many elections. Is there a way to fix this? Some people argue we should slap fines on people who fail to vote or even throw them in jail to rot alongside axe-murderers, and other non-voters. A number of countries do it this way, but frankly, I’m glad I don’t live in those countries.
Fact is, there’s little to vote on these days. The legislative districts are skewed toward one party and incumbents rarely face credible challengers. I can’t blame someone for not going to the polls when there isn’t anything to vote for. People tend to do what is in their interest. So instead of trying to force people to vote, why not give them something to vote for?
States where citizens can place laws directly on the ballot enjoy about 5 percent higher voter turn-out than the other states. Just the other day, there was a local election in Nashville, Tennessee. Such local elections usually suffer very low turnout sometimes under 10 percent. Yet, Nashville’s election saw a 33 percent increase in voter participation. Why? Term limits opened up a majority of the 40 council positions as well as the mayor’s office.
So the people of Nashville had a lot of candidates running and much more competitive elections. In short, they had something to vote for. Same thing happened in states like California, Michigan, and Colorado and cities like New Orleans and Kansas City.
Hey, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we try term limits everywhere?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.