I'm 73 years of and have dutifully voted in every election but never really thought that my vote made any difference at all. It probably didn't since in most presidential elections I almost never voted for the winner. I was better when picking senators and representatives.
I live in Illinois so, when I lived in Chicago, I registered as a Democrat so that I could vote in the Democratic primary and possibly determine who the winner in the final election would be by influencing the choice of the Democratic candidate. When I lived in the suburbs, I registered as a Republican on the same principle since, by and large, the Republican candidate won in the suburbs. I am happy to report that I never voted for a governor that went to jail (not an easy accomplishment in Illinois).
But I never thought that my vote was important. The 2013 Virginia Attorney General race has opened my eyes. Out of 2,400,000 votes the race was decided by less than 200 votes. And hopefully Virginia will now have an administration made up of men who actually want to have a government. But what if those less than 200 people had opted out from voting that Tuesday? Think of the atrocities.
One tidbit that came out of Virginia elections was the objection by the Republican poll watchers to an Every Vote Counts button that the Democratic poll watchers were wearing which the Republicans thought was a partisan sentiment and should not be allowed inside the voting precincts. The Republican efforts to limit the voting to only those that would be cast in their favor underscores the vital importance of getting every eligible person to vote.
I plan now to make my vote count by making sure everyone who agrees with what I think is important votes as well. I’m still going to vote in a crowd, but now I am going to create the crowd and take it to the polls with me.
So I will be volunteering to call voters not just in Illinois but across the country to tell everyone how important their vote is and report what the representatives in whose election they did not bother to participate have done in their name.
If everyone who voted in the last election bring 2 other people who didn't vote, the percentage of voters would jump from 30% to 90%.
But let's look at other methods for getting more voters voting.
US Elections these days are decided by roughly 30 percent of the voting population. The Republicans insist that we need photo ID to verify that people voting have that right and seem to be interested in protecting the only the rights to vote for those who will vote for them.
I'd be more interested in an even-handed approach and suggest shifting the responsibility for obtaining these voting IDs from the individual to the state.
Issue photo IDs to every eligible voter (as was done for every male reaching draft age in past eons), either each state will be responsible for identifying and contacting and providing a photo ID for each of its eligible voters, or the federal government can issue a photo ID. Possibly have equipment in vans (like visiting libraries) traveling around every state on a posted schedule issuing the IDs on-site.
Two popular methods for getting out the vote have historically been discussed.
Paying a fee to every voter who votes.
Issue photo IDs, and send out Vouchers for the voter to hand in at the polling place
This has obvious problems
1. One shouldn't have to pay a citizen for fulfilling as citizen's duty.
2. The out-of-pocket cost to the government.
If the fee is a per hour charge think how much would of been paid to each one of those voters stuck in the long lines in Florida (and other states) in the presidential election. Say 2,000,000,000 voters at 6 hours at minimum wage-over $87,000,000.
I'm beginning to like this idea, it would be a real incentive for governors to make the voting process more efficient.
Or if it's a flat fee, again minimum wage, Virginia would've shelled out over $15,000,000 this year. And remember many of these voters are not paying taxes (a la 47%) so the taxpaying citizens would be footing the bill
Making voting mandatory, (my personal favorite-it works in Australia)
1. Issue photo IDs to every eligible voter
2. Declare a "Get out the Vote Day" on election day making it mandatory for businesses to allow workers to vote and pay their workers for the time needed to vote
3. Make it a crime not to vote
4. Provide transportation for voters needing
or allow voting on the internet or by mail (as is done in Washington State)
Hopefully we can then avoid the horror stories that are playing out in the red states or, alternatively, have the horror stories but deserve them.