The toughest part of any Election Day isn’t who won or who lost. It’s looking at the dismal voter turnout, and realizing that people simply don’t seem to be motivated to actually vote.
One can talk about the importance of civic duty, but that doesn’t seem to have much of an impact.
It’s ironic, because there is a LOT of conversation about how polarized America is right now, and how bad Candidate A is, or how terrible Candidate B is, or how awful Elected Official C is.
People like to talk a big game, but when it comes time to take action, they simply don’t.
So how does one make voting a priority for everyone? One can start by removing barriers.
As it stands today in Yuma County, one can request an early ballot, and vote from home whenever one is ready. Can’t make it to the polls on Election Day? No problem – get an early ballot, and vote at your leisure. One can even get on a permanent early ballot mailing list, and from that day forward, the ballot will magically appear at your house for each election. It’s a terrific way to get people to vote.
Even with that option, Yuma’s election this week to fill city council seats had a low turnout, with roughly 8,000 people casting a vote.
At the primary election in August, voter turnout was only about 15%, with about 7,500 people voting.
Yuma certainly isn’t alone in this problem. It’s a nationwide issue.
To combat the problem, some communities are examining options to allow online voting. NPR reports that West Virginia and counties in Utah, Oregon and Colorado are looking at a new Internet voting app, which would allow overseas and military voters to cast votes.
However, if an option was available to vote from your phone, would you be more inclined to do so?
There are huge hurdles to overcome here – namely, how does one safeguard this process to prevent hackers from infiltrating it? Cybersecurity is a tremendous issue.
But let’s pretend for a moment that cybersecurity was locked into place, iron-clad tight. Would a voting app or online option be enough incentive to engage Americans in the voting process?
Given the low turnout numbers, it’s worth investigating.