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Why Americans Do Not Vote

             Voting is a central aspect of American Democracy. It is the primary opportunity the people of the United States have to select representatives and influence the government. Americans are very proud of the fact that they live in a democracy. In fact Americans have fought numerous wars and thousands of Americans have died in the name of Democracy; Americans even fight wars in the name of democracy where there is no democracy like Kuwait. As a democracy the central act of democratic citizenship is the casting of the vote. Yet, for some reason, little more than half of the American electorate shows up to vote in a presidential election. During off-years, barely a third of the electorate shows up. The U.S. has the lowest turnout of any industrialized nation; 55% in 1992 election and about 50% in 1996. Compared to other nations, the U.S. is doing horrible. Italy has and 94% voter turnout, Australia with a 84% voter turnout, Israel 82%, France 77%, the U.K. 75%, Japan 73%, and Canada with a 67% voter turnout. So why is turn-out so low in the U.S?.
             First, unlike the U.S., some nations like Australia and Belgium have compulsory voting laws. If people in those countries do not vote, then there is a forced tax to pay. Not surprisingly, they have very high turnouts. Second, many nations automatically register all of their citizens to vote. In the United States, however, citizens must jump the extra hurdle of voter registration. About 40 percent of the eligible adult population votes regularly, whereas about 25 percent are occasional voters; 35% rarely or never vote. Voters are usually more highly educated than non-voters. A high percentage of registered voters have four or more years or college, while many non-voters have considerably less education. This suggests that institutions of higher learning provide citizens with opportunities to learn about and become interested in politics. There is also a relationship between income and voting.

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