U.S. voter turnout is very low. But what if something is happening here?

by Bob Schwartz


U.S. Voter Turnout

Pew Research reports that “U.S. voter turnout trails most developed countries.” But what if something is happening here?

What if U.S. voter turnout was more like Belgium (89% of voting age population)? Or Australia (82%)? Or Israel (76%)? To name just a few of the countries where people vote in great numbers.

Instead, U.S. voter turnout is mired at 54% of voting age population, just a few places from the bottom.

There are about 235 million Americans of voting age. If turnout increased to the top of the list (89%), that would increase the number of voters by 35% (89%-54%). Thirty-five percent of 235 million is about 82 million more voters.

82 million more voters. To put that in perspective, the winner of the last presidential election received about 66 million votes.

82 million more votes. Many young. Many not white. Many open to new ideas and proposals, as the old ones don’t seem to work so well. Many not committed to maintaining the status quo, which has not been all that good to and for them.

This is what should worry all the established political parties and politicians. And the establishments that depend on them and on predictable stability rather than change, radical or even incremental.

Except that the parties, politicians and establishments don’t seem, at least publicly, to be worried. They appear to believe that non-voting Americans won’t suddenly show up at the polls in great numbers to vote their own views and interests. And just in case, some of those establishments are ready to deploy tools to help keep those numbers down.

Sometimes history is a bending arc. Sometimes it’s a runaway train. Votes are the fuel. That train may already be rolling slowly. Getting ready to speed up.

Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man