The Hill published a recent op-ed arguing that low voter registration is not a partisan issue, but a ‘Team America’ issue. Ava DeSantis writes why the solution to low voter turnout is offering voters a reason to vote.
Yesterday, analyzing decreasing voter registration rates ahead of the 2020 Election, Hill contributor Kimberly Wehle called her “concern about unmooring from democracy itself,” “not a partisan one.” The COVID-19 outbreak caused new voter registration totals to decrease from numbers in January and February, Wehle posited. While it is true that COVID-19 made voter registration and voting more difficult, the United States always had a voter turnout problem.
Only 55.7% of voting-age Americans are registered voters, one of the lowest rates among developed countries. Voter turnout, however, is not set in stone.
Voter turnout will increase if we give citizens something to vote for. Our “unmooring from democracy,” demands a partisan solution. In 2008, over 130 million people voted in the Presidential election. This was the largest number of voters in US history. 68% of Obama’s voters in 2008 said they were “very enthusiastic” in their support of the candidate. Instead of shaming citizens for their lack of participation, politicians should look to replicate this by giving their voters a real incentive to vote.
Sen. Cory Booker: You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign
In 2016, Hillary Clinton failed to gain similar enthusiasm. A CNN poll before the election estimated only 19% of Democrats and left-leaning independents were “very enthusiastic” about voting for Hillary. Hillary did not stray far from Obama’s messaging, however. An advisor, summing up her election strategy, said “she’s going to basically support his policies but imply without saying so that’s she’s going to be tougher.” This is the problem: a repeat of Obama did not offer anything material to voters.
Now, Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden makes the same mistake. On the debate stage, his primary challengers criticized him for his repeated invoking of Obama’s name. “You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign,” said Sen. Cory Booker. The majority of his supporters are not enthusiastic about voting Biden.
Low voter turnout should concern both Democrats and Republicans, but the solution is a partisan one. To increase turnout, give voters a material change to support.