Monday, March 5, 2012

Does Voter Turnout Really Matter?

Iraqi voter - c. 2010
Americans put a great deal of faith in the election process; however, it seems that only a modest number are willing to get involved. What difference does it make if many Americans do not seem interested in politics and that Americans on the whole turn out to vote less often than citizens in other democracies? Is this really something to worry about?

The elite democratic model suggests that full participation is not so important; instead, we should wonder whether enough citizens are involved to make the electoral process competitive. After all, the people who don't vote also tend to be the least well-informed... do we really want uninformed voters involved in the process of selecting our leaders? Some observers would also suggest that less informed citizens are more prone to radical policy shifts - so their absence on election day actually adds a degree of stability to public policy and the political process.

In an opinion-editorial for Newsweek magazine, conservative columnist George Will argues that "good government - not the right to vote - is a fundamental human right. From Will's perspective, declining voter turnout is no cause for worry... as long as fairness and political opportunity are guaranteed.

The popular (majoritarian) democratic model, on the other hand, puts a premium on electoral involvement - perhaps because citizens develop a sense that they have a stake in whatever public policy results from their political decisions. The popular model suggests that systems of government designed to reflect the will of the people - the ours here in the United States - will do so better, and in the long run will be more prosperous and stable, if average citizens join the electoral process.

In his book Why Americans Hate Politics, liberal journalist E. J. Dionne writes that "a nation that hates politics will not long thrive as a democracy."


Which commentator, Will or Dionne, comes closer to representing YOUR point-of-view on whether modest voter participation in America is really something to worry about?

89 comments:

Morgan K said...

I identify with the beliefs of George Will the most, as he says that voter turnout is not nearly as important as fair government. The elite democratic model argues that the votes of those who do not show up on election are not important, and missing their votes actually protects the democratic system. This is because they are the most likely to show up uninformed and to have their opinions easily swayed without much thought. The result of these votes could likely be radical policy shifts that could be detrimental to the political process. Because of these reasons, I agree with George Will in that voter turnout is not an issue to be worried about and can actually be beneficial.

Madison V said...

Will's view better represents my views about voter turnout. I believe that if you don't know what you're voting for, it's better that you don't vote at all until you are educated on policies. If everyone voted for the popular thing, or what their parents believe, the actual representation of views would be skewed because we wouldn't know their actual views and opinions. As long as one party isn't extremely over-represented in the voting process, I don't see a problem with everyone not turning out to vote.

Voting is a big responsibility and if you can't handle the power that comes with it, it's better that you leave it up to people who know what they're voting for.

Travis S said...

George Will's point of view on voter participation comes closer to my viewpoint. I feel that as long as citizens have the chance to vote the system of government is doing to job. I would rather have uninformed voters not vote if they don't want to than, them just choosing a random candidate and skewing the results of citizens that actually care about the election just so that they can say that they voted.

Luke H said...

My point of view most nearly matches George Will's point of view. The fairness of the government in our democracy is the most important value. The voters who do not vote, are usually the ones who are the least informed, therefore the absence of their votes may not be important.

Emily L said...

George Will best represents my point view on whether modest voter participation in America is something to worry about. By Will arguing that it is a "fundamental human right", I strongly agree with him. Although I think more Americans should participate in voting and politics to better American government and politics, it is truely up to each individual person on whether they choose to vote or not. If American choose not to vote, then they have to live with whatever the outcome is. Even though everyone in our nation is not voting and participating in politics, I belive that our nation will still thrive as a democracy.

shelley23 said...

Dionne comes closer to representing my point-of-view on whether modest voter participation in America is really something to worry about? Because makes it very clear that "a nation that hates politics will not long thrive as a democracy. The definition of democracy is according to my textbook is a political system in which ALL CITIZENS have a chance to play a role in shaping government action and are afforded basic rights and liberties. George Will feels that "good government- not the right to vote- but is a fundamental right, which essentially means that full participation is not very important in elections. Yet according to the democracy the all people should have the right to to support their political decisions.

Colton U said...

I would agree with George Will's point of view and say that it doesn’t matter how many citizens vote as long as the ones that care do and fairness is guaranteed. The participation really isn't that big of a deal because the ones who care will vote and will express and interest while the ones who don’t care wont effect the voting turnout just because they were forced to vote.

Kamil said...

Choosing to vote should be the choice of each citizen who is able to vote. When all the citizens are able to vote and give their choice the government giving the people all the opportunities it can. I agree with Will when he says as long as the process is fair, because if there are uninformed voters voting the results will not be an accurate representation of the informed voters results.

Anonymous said...

I agree with George Will's views about the voter turnout. If someone does not feel that they can make time or want to vote it is their choice. Most of the voters who do not participate are, as well, the least informed which is benificial for elections since they can alter the outcome drastically possibly changing who the winner is.

-Lauren B

Lauren S said...

I agree with Diane because I think that it is more important to get as many people voting, who are educated about the subject, as possible in elections so that the people as a whole can be best represented. The election process depends on people who are accurately informed and their beliefs, not to say that the people who are less educated about political topics should be disregarded, but the voting elections carries enormous weight in choosing the President. Therefore it would be in America's benefit to educate and inform the voters so that they can make the smartest political decision.

Lauren S said...

I agree with Diane because I think that it is more important to get as many people voting, who are educated about the subject, as possible in elections so that the people as a whole can be best represented. The election process depends on people who are accurately informed and their beliefs, not to say that the people who are less educated about political topics should be disregarded, but the voting elections carries enormous weight in choosing the President. Therefore it would be in America's benefit to educate and inform the voters so that they can make the smartest political decision.

Lauren S said...

I agree with Diane because I think that it is more important to get as many people voting, who are educated about the subject, as possible in elections so that the people as a whole can be best represented. The election process depends on people who are accurately informed and their beliefs, not to say that the people who are less educated about political topics should be disregarded, but the voting elections carries enormous weight in choosing the President. Therefore it would be in America's benefit to educate and inform the voters so that they can make the smartest political decision.

Stephen R said...

I identify with Dionne's beliefs that everyone should have an impact on who becomes president. It is an American core value of equal rights and privileges as well as equal voting rights. Who decides who is knowledgeable or not? If one says the super rich or educated should make all the decisions holds a valid point that people need to be educated, but as seen in the French Revolution, when the poor and majority don't have a say in government, the elite can take advantage of politics and the nation. I believe if everyone has a right to an equal vote than candidates can better represent all classes and types of people

Mercedez Spears said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mercedez Spears said...

Dionne's point of view correlates closer to mine by relating to my opinion, for a democracy to thrive we have to unite and get involved. Every vote counts and can change the lives of people for the next four years. I also agree with George Will when he said, "as long as fairness and political opportunity are guaranteed." I feel that better fairness and opportunity are guaranteed with the mass participation. This way more voices are heard, leading to a more precise electoral decision.

Cooper said...

George Will put it best, the turnout is something that is out of our hands. The turnout is something that is all based on opinion and will tend to be continously modest. Even though only half of the eligable voters participate, it is still not a problem. Our democracy is a system built on fairness and is made to work itself out. No matter the number of voters, "fairness and political opprotunity are guaranteed." This is exactly what we should consider when discussing the issues of electoral turnouts.

chris cole said...

I agree with Wills point of view. I also believe that it is vital for anyone who can, and IS educated about candidates, process,etc. to vote. It would not be right if people who didn't know anything about the election or the candidates to vote, just based on who dresses best, who looks the best, etc. Voting should be done by everyone in the US, because it is our country; but it is also important that everyone is engaged and well-informed.

Sydney Dunbar said...

I agree with Dionne's views on voter turnout. If the maximum sample of american's points of views are not taken, then a democracy cannot properly funtion to benefit American's as a whole. The elite domocratic model is faulty because no one should be able to deem anyone as not elite enough or not eduacated enough to voice their opinion. Voting takes time out of the lives of people who need to work and provide for them selves and their family and it is hard working people like this who need to be heard most of all. An elite group of people who have the recources to take time out of their day to vote should not have such an advantage on the election process. Greater measures need to be taken to help stimulate voter turnout.

woodyleonard said...

My view is somewhere between George Will's and the "popular democratic Model". I believe that a decrease in voter participation is not the end of the world as long as everyone has an equel opurtunity to the information and evryone has the same rights to vote. But, I also believe that the better the turn out the better the majority's opinion will be represented
-Jack Leonard

JackM said...

Even though I wish that all American citizens engaged in our Government, I agree with the idea that all citizens have a right to vote or not. George Will classifies "Good Governments as a fundamental human right, not the right to vote." As long as "Fairness and political opportunity are guaranteed" then I do not have a problem with elections elections. Although many more people should vote to help diversify the election process, it should not be forced upon anybody.

eugene l said...

I agree with the idea of George Will. If the government is fair whats the point of the rest of the election. The people who aren't voting are the ones who don't know anything about the canidates so it wouldnt be beneficary for our country.

jack attack said...

George Will a conservative Columnist makes a point that all americans need to understand. People need to understand that the declining voter turnout isn't necessarily a bad thing as long as voting is fair and political opportunity is guaranteed. i agree with
George because we do not need to worry about people not voting who clearly don't care. these types of people will do nothing but hurt american politics. why would americans want someone voting to make important decisions that is most likely uninformed and doesn't care about the outcome? sounds pretty crazy doesn't it.

Julie Wheeler said...

George Will's point of view is closer to my view point. I feel that as long as citizens have the right to vote, then fairness and political opportunity are guaranteed. I think that if the voter truly cared about which political party they agree with, then they would take the time to vote. If more citizens took out the time to vote then it would be more of an insight of what the citizens opinions are, but in reality we cannot force people to vote. If the citizens chose to not vote then we would have to face the outcome of that decision.

patrick said...

George Will makes a very good point here. The people of this country do not need to be worried about the declining number of voter participation. Those who do not vote do not care and those who do not care, if forced to vote, will only vote based on popular consensus or on the very few radical opinions of the candidates that hey have heard on TV. Voters who are uneducated on the views and platforms of the candidates are only a hinderance to electing the best candidate possible.

Niko P said...

George Will's point of view on voter participation is the most reasonable of the two listed. It is much more important that "fairness and political oportunity are guranteed". Informed voters should be the only ones that vote. If somebody doesn't have any interest in an election, they're probably uninformed and shouldn't vote anyways. People are free to make their own decisions if they want to participate.

Josh T. said...

I agree with Will's opinion on the subject. I think that every vote plays a crucial role in the outcome of the election. Educated votes are what the U.S needs in order to elect the best candidate. Votes that are not backed with concrete knowledge and information about the candidate are simply a waist. All the votes in the world could be taken, but the educated votes are the only ones that can have an impact on society.

Anonymous said...

I agree with George Will. I believe that if someone is not completely educated about a candidate then they should not vote. I believe that everyone who is educated should vote. I think that uneducated voters who vote are hurting the government, but when they don’t vote they are strengthening our government. I also agree with George Will’s view on fair elections, it doesn’t matter about the turnout as long as the election is fair.

Zeev F

DillonS said...

I agree with Will’s statement. The number of votes is less important if the people who are not voting are the people who are uneducated about the election. As long as people vote in an educated manor and not a random choice, good government will be created. Numbers will go up and down naturally, but what’s more important is that fairness and political opportunity will remain equal.

Lauren Edmond said...

Will presents a more compelling arguement in the fact that most voters who do not turn out to vote are not well educated on the matters anyway. If all voters were well educated on the matter then I would be all for Dionne in her assertion that all eligble voters should vote however this is not the case and some uneducated voters not voting helps keep the balance.

Ian Marks said...

I think E.J. Dionne's opinion on the importance voter turnout more closely reflects my views than George Will. I believe that every citizen has the right to participate in politics and should be allowed to exercise his or her right. If we eliminate the importance of voters, we cut off the American people from having a say in their future. While many citizens do not care to vote, they should have the option and allow them to exercise their right to vote as they choose.

Abby said...

George Will's perspective closer represents my own point of view. I think that if people choose not to be engaged in politics, that is their own choice. Also, if less informed voters absence creates stability, because they are more likely to vote for more radical policy shifts. The people who tend not to vote also tend to be less informed, which may be a good thing because there are informed people voting.

Brookie said...

My views on this topic are most closely related to the views of the conservative columnist, George Will. I believe that if people are uninformed about what is going on in our U.S. government, their votes wouldn’t do anyone any good. In other words, it would be better for them to not vote at all. If these uninformed people voted, their votes wouldn’t help us, U.S. citizens, get an accurate depiction of what the people in America actually want to see in a leader. The elite democratic model suggests that full participation is not as important as having a fair leader that the people of America who are involved in politics want. I agree completely with this model. In conclusion, if unmotivated and uninformed people vote in the Presidential Election this would hurt our government, not help it. This is why I side with George Will.

Natalie Johnston said...

Although America is based on the tradition of democracy, I support George Will's argument that the key ingredient to a country's success is not nominating a President on a collective vote from every citizen, politically educated or uneducated. Instead, a smaller amount of voters that are most likely more informed on the candidates' platforms would make for a more effective election and qualified leader. The elite democratic model ensures that without full participation, voting is still very effective due to the typical crowd that is voting. This model is very similar to the Electoral College, as well. The Electoral College values the opinion of an elite, educated, involved group over that of an entire state just as the elite democratic model edges out the weak vote (from an uniformed voter).

Beys said...

Elite democracy states that the most important goal is the general welfare, yet masses are too uninterested, incompetent, or dangerous to be given control over decision-making? I feel that this is a contradicting statement, and that general welfare is in masses, meaning that voter turnout is very important to the health and well being of our nation. The masses will NOT always be incapable of making decisions for the long-term common good, and if some are incapable, the masses will make up for a few "blind" votes. Voter turnout is no doubt in my mind the most efficient and fairest way candidates win presidency and other elections.

Beys said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Claire Criss said...

Both of these theories have strong bases in what is good for America and how to make our country better. The question is, which one actually protects the citizens best. In my personal opinion I fall somewhere in the middle. I believe that voter turnout isn't as important but I also believe that we don't want the under-educated to vote as well. WIll makes good points in saying that we want a good government above a major voter turnout, but on the other hand, Dionne is correct in saying that we want a government that upholds the will of the people. Honestly I can't say I disagree with either the elite of the popular ideas of democracy.

RidaBaharia said...

I would have to agree with what Will has to say. The people of the United States are being given the opportunity to vote, and be involved in the electoral progress. But if the people choose to not be involved in what is going on election wise, that is not our fault. the people have been given the right to do so, and if they wish to not do so then that is not for us to worry about. Yes, we may be getting less of an outcome, fairness is involved and the voice of the people who care is being heard. You wouldn't want to have an unacknowledged voter involved in the election process anyways, because they could harm our governments choices by unacknowledged voter.

Daniel K. said...

I agree with George Will, that voter turnout is not nearly as important as fair government. The elite democratic model suggests that the votes of those who do not show up on Election Day are not important and those votes essentially help the democratic system. The results of these votes could bring a radical shift and in the long run be detrimental to the process. Overall, I agree with George Will that voter turnout is not something to worry about on Election Day but can overall be beneficial.

Nicole K said...

I can understand both Will's and Dionne's opinions. I understand that if people are not educated in any way about presidential candidates, that they should not vote, but also it is a great point that in the long run it makes more sense for all average citizens to vote. If I had to choose which opinion I agree with more, I would say that I agree with Dionne when he says that it isn't a democracy if not everyone's opinion is represented. We can't get the will of the people without knowing what all people think, even average citizens. Even if they aren't up to date in what is happening with the candidates and the election, everyone has an opinion and everyone's opinion is valid. I believe that the declining voter turnout is a problem and we should work to get the people involved in the electoral process.

Cameron said...

The picture on the initial post really change the way on how I began to think about this problem. At first I believed that the successful and wealthy, elite democracy, was best for the people, creating the most educated and realistic decisions for our country. But the picture really turned my thinking process to a new light. I remembered then what the true purpose of a democracy is; for the voices of every person to be heard and put into action in the democracy. If the elites in our society today are the ones controlling everything, and the lower class citizen in reality have no control, can we really call our system of government a democracy? To me this is not the definition of democracy, to me this sounds like an oligarchy. Although the people who do not vote at the time because they are uneducated or uniformed on the voting process, what everyone says counts. No matter what our monitorial, or social status in society, everyone has a voice in a democracy; or at least should. This is what the picture reminded me of. It reminded me that we all have a say in our election process, and we should not take this freedom for granted. In this way E.J. Dionne comes closer to my perspective on the issue. In fact he states,” and in the long run will be more prosperous and stable, if average citizens join the electoral process.

Megan Riney said...

My personal views are the same as George Will and the elite democratic model. Voting is a choice made by Americans, and even though some are choosing to not participate, I think that the country's election process as a whole is still functioning very well. Personally, I am okay that the least informed Americans are the majority of those not voting, because if they placed a vote at random perhaps, it could skew the results to not reflect what those who care about the election want.

Miranda M. said...

My opinion leans more towards the opinion of George Will. He says that it doesn't necessarily matter how many citizens participate in the voting process but for the ones that do vote are guarenteed fairness and political opportunity. Voter participation isn't necessary because if citizens don't care to vote then they obviously don't care what the outcome of the election will be. So the outcome will be decided by voters who do care (and the voters who didn't vote shouldn't care about the outcome). If they do care, then they should have voted!

Emily Kelsoe said...

I think active voter participation stands above all in importance. George Will asserts a valid point, that many of the people that choose not the participate in voting are usually those who are ill-informed, yet, in my opinion, these votes should still matter and be taken into consideration. It is better for voters to participate and have their say in the election process and therefore feel as if they had their opinions voiced because in the future, this may make them less likely to form strong opinions against the choices of the current government and perhaps even act upon these beliefs. America's true democracy would be lost if the voter participation continues to drop, as stated by E.J. Dionne. Therefore, I stress the importance of larger voter participation in order to maintain the original ideals of the American people.

Selina R said...

George Will comes closer to representing my point-of-view on whether modest voter participation in America is really something to worry about. Fairness and political opportunity need to be guaranteed. Also, I agree that the informed voters should be the ones that decide to vote. We do not want a uniformed person who knows nothing of the situation to put their input in, because they don’t know the whole back story. Most uniformed voters would probably not be interested in voting anyways. However, everyone has their own right to choose whether or not they want to participate in the electing process.

Hunter Prater said...

I agree with E.J. Dionne in that we need to have people participate in voting for democracy to thrive. How are the people supposed to have a say in the government if they don’t vote. People need to actively participate in government that way they can have a say and the government is truly based on what the people want. The less and less people participate in government the more it hurts us being a democracy. If we have limited people participating it could make one party more powerful which isn’t right so we need everyone to participate. If we can get a majority of people to vote then our government will reflect most of the country.

Marcy A said...

I believe in the elite democratic model for the voter turnout. I believe each vote that is counted is important and should represent a well thought out decision. Even though it is important that the end result represents the majority of our country's people desires, an unthoughtful vote is not an important contribution. The well-informed people's votes are the ones that are more significant and will represent our country better. If our country is represented by informed people's decisions, we will be able to move toward better growth and accomplishments.

Jonathan Wells said...

I agree with George Will's idealogies more than Diane. George Will says that "good government - not the right to vote - is a fundamental human right." If a person is voting just to vote and not because they want themselves represented properly in the government, then why should they vote. Voting should be available about everyone, but it is more important to have less voters who know than more voters who don't know.

Danielle W said...

I agree with George Will’s view about voter turnout because I believe he is correct in the fact that "good government - not the right to vote - is a fundamental human right”. People who care and are passionate about the election process will be avid participators in the voting process. As long as fairness is granted, I agree with George Will that we shouldn’t be concerned with the decreasing voter turnout. Also, uninformed voters probably wouldn't be as interested as participating in the process anyways.

Ryan said...

I support Will's opinion on the subject. There is no reason for people that are uninformed in the political world to vote. They may have the opportonuity to, but it's no problem that they don't. In fact, it's a good thing that they don't. Plus, with less voters, it becomes more competitive and the candidates are forced to please more of a majority of people. There is more of a fight for each vote and that makes candidates more interested in the desires of the majority. If someone who doesn't vote one year is unpleased with the outcome, they'll be influenced to vote in the following election, and with this, everyone wins.

Cole B said...

I agree with George Will. He states that it doesn't matter how many people show up to vote, just that there is political fairness and opportunity. I also agree with him when he says that the people that don't vote are "the least well- informed." I think that the people who are the most informed make the most logical votes, and that if people don't care enough to fallow the election then they shouldn't have vote.

Emily S. said...

My beliefs coincide with Dionne's. Alike Dionne, I believe that everyone should have an impact on who becomes president. Americans are given the right and opportunity to vote and should take advantage of this privilege. By not taking advantage of such an opportunity, defeats the purpose of the women’s suffrage movement and all the other strives to get equal voting rights during the 1800’s. Will argues that uneducated voters are leading to the decline of our country. It is our job to educate those who are uniformed and hope that with knowledge will come participation in such an important system. By everyone utilizing their rights, I believe that our president will better represent our country.

Maddi M said...

I would have to side with George Will on this one. Will clearly states that voter turnout is not nearly as important as fair government. Everyone does not have to turn out a vote, especially the people who are ignorant about politics and what is going on in our world. Several people could be easily swayed to one side or another so I believe that if you do not have a specific viewpoint on the matter, don't vote. Voting is about supporting your opinion, so if you do not have an opinion, why vote?

Larson McQuary said...

I agree with George Will in this situation because as long as we have voters coming out, we will still have democracy. Typically, voters who don't show up are more likely to have their opinions altered and are easily swayed come voting time. The elite domocratic model states the the votes of those who do not show up come election time don't truely matter and it is seen as a sign of being undemocratic. With no clear idea of who they want as leader of our country, the non-voters could damage the government if they voted poorly against the good of the county. George Will is right in that a modest voter turnout is not a bad thing.

Daniel Acosta said...

I agree with George Will. Voting is a right given to all American citizens and whether or not they chose to exercise is up to them. Those who chose not to vote are usually uninformed or just don't share the views of any of the candidates. The uniformed voters could potentially contribute to the election of a candidate who isn't fully capable to run this country, and if everyone voted, the majority might elect the candidate who is more popular than the one who is more qualified to be president. If the uniformed voters where to participate, they could push for radical policy shifts that could lead to instability in government. Without their votes government operations stay stable and balanced.

Molly Aaron said...

It seems to me that it would be illogical to have citizens vote for something so crucial, like choosing the next president, when they have no prior knowledge to the subject. Uninformed voters are easily swayed and, if swayed the wrong way, could put a damper on our country in the long run. With this being said, I identify best with George Will’s beliefs. Voter turnout is not nearly as vital as protecting our nation’s democratic system.

Anthony Escobar said...

Will easily represents my point of view on modest voter participation in America because the non-voters or the "bystander" party who do not pay attention to politics whatsoever are most of the time those who don't not vote in our elections held. While people should become more active in voting and receive the representation they want by voting, the choice is ultimately up to the individual on whether the wants to vote or not. Voting is a right, it is not mandatory.

Andrew Boyd said...

I agree with Dionne's view on voter participation. Voter participation IS extremeley important. After all, we as Americans take pride in having a form of government where the views people are represented. The main form of representing people's view is voting. Voting is a huge part of our country's ideals. With less and less voter turnout, there is a problem. All citizens who can vote should vote. With less voter turnout, more people's views are not being represented. That causes an unfair shift in politics when only some peoples views are represented.

BOYD

Morgan C. said...

I agree with George Will's opinion, because I believe voter turnout is not as important as having a fair and equal system which successfully represents the citizens who want to be heard. It is a citizen's own responsibility to vote, and if they fail to live up to this responsibility that is their choice. Among citizens who do not participate in elections, conclusions can be drawn they simply do not have an opinion or do not care if their opinion is expressed. It is more important we focus on the citizens who take the time to participate and who do want their ideas to be heard and considered. As a democracy, it is responsibility of the United States to provide these voting citizens with the rights they have been promised.

Kellye McGuire said...

My point of view is closer to the point of view of E. J. Doinne. Democracy needs involvement and competition to really thrive. If there are less voters, less volunteers, less politicians, then the democracy will decline over time. Passion is necesary in a democracy to put the best and smartest candidates in office. If people do not vote then the government does not reflect the will of al the people and a small group can end up controlling the government for all U.S. citizens. I agree with the popular (majoritarian) democratic model, that the democracy will do much better and be more stable if citizens vote and be a part of the political system.

Brooke Bode said...

Voter turnout is an often disregarded factor into the outcome of elections. I agree with Diane in the sense that since so many groups of citizens have worked so hard to get suffrage, why should one just throw that away because they think their ‘uninformed’ vote will not count. Since everyone is given the opportunity to vote, they must take advantage of that opportunity to have their voice heard. If not all people vote, then the government will only cater to those who casted their vote and therefore only benefit the alleged majority. Every person has the right to choose their own government, so voter turnout does matter and it does influence the outcome of elections and the future. -Brooke Bode

Daniela Ramirez said...

It’s not just the voting turnout, it’s the lack of involvement in the government that American citizens have so I agree with Will on that but Dionne reflects my perspective more because the U.S.A. is not just a typical democracy, it’s a representative democracy so if we do not get involved and actually vote, it’s like saying that the whole point of democracy is not needed. The whole point of our founding fathers establishing the constitution was to exclude the anarchy and put out the voice of the people. So yes, voter turnout does matter because a characteristic we attain is being a type of democracy and example for other non-democratic countries. However, voters’ involvement and knowledge of the government applies to the voter turnout because indeed, we do not want someone to vote with little knowledge of what is going on.

Katherine Trent said...

Voter participation is vital for democracy, but voters must be knowledgable in order for the democracy to function. So in this case, I agree with George Will’s argument that human rights are “good government,” not the “right to vote.” Voting requirements are not meant to deter people from voting, but to work toward an unbiased vote. The process of registering ahead of time is not difficult, but it sifts out some irrational and spur of the moment voters. Registering proves a voter’s initiative, and that they care enough to vote. Democracy relies on the participation of its citizens, but without a “good government,” government becomes dysfunctional.

Christina B said...

I agree with viewpoint of George Will. It is important that the votes come from individuals who are well informed about politics and are well aware about what is happening in government. The elite democrat model suggests that full voter participation is not necessary to best represent the views of the people, as many voters are not well-informed about candidates. Those uninformed votes do not best represent the views of the country, and it would actually be better for them not to vote at all. After all, a more thoughtful, meaningful vote is more significant than one that was cast “just to vote”.

- Christina B.

ellis cupit said...

I aggree with George Will, i believe that if individuals who do not completley understand the candidates past and future aspirations in the white house can easily vote for a terrible candidate. For example, people turned out last election to vote for President Obama that had never heard of his political ideals or endeavors. They simply heard his slogan "Change" and blindly followed his campaign. Secondly, with the current electoral college that we have in place as long as a few people vote in each state, we will still have a president elect after the election day.

Anonymous said...

Yes , voter turnout certainly matters to a certain extent. Because in today’s society some people may vote for the wrong reasons like peer pressure from their friends and what not so those votes might be not legitimate. But voter turnout for the majority definitely matters because as majoritarian democracy says that the most important goal is getting mass participation and the decision making from that will maximize the general welfare.
Jeffery D.

Anonymous said...

Yes , voter turnout certainly matters to a certain extent. Because in today’s society some people may vote for the wrong reasons like peer pressure from their friends and what not so those votes might be not legitimate. But voter turnout for the majority definitely matters because as majoritarian democracy says that the most important goal is getting mass participation and the decision making from that will maximize the general welfare.
Jeffery D.

Kianan S said...

My thoughts on voter turnout align more with George Will than with E.J. Dionne. While a citizen should be informed about the political agenda and ideas happening in government, the case is that many citizens are ill informed or just do not care about what happens in politics. The citizens who do not vote may be uneducated about the political happenings, leading to a voter that may only have one side of an issue. These citizens, since they have only one side of many issues, may be more extreme then other voters who are well educated on various topics. A good government is much more important than voter turnout. A good government is a solid base and foundation. Voters should be people who care enough about politics and know of the issues. Voting is a serious responsibility that requires participants that have formed their own opinions, rather than what is fed to them. - Kianna S.

Sterling said...

On this issue, I side with Will. Voting is a right, and not voting is just another way of exercising our right to vote. Also, people who don't vote also might not be that well informed about the issues and the candidates, and so people who really do care about the issues will choose a leader based on their qualities instead of whether or not they like the candidate. So while yes, if only one person were to show up on voting day to cast their favor to a candidate, that would say that our country is crumbling quickly, what really matters is that the candidate is chosen by people who care and understand the imformation they've been given.

SterlingH

Sam Kimichik said...

George Will makes a thoughtful point, and i agree with him, when he argues that voters must be informed. If voters aren't informed on political issues or on the candidates, then they shouldn't skew the votes of the responsibly informed citizens. If uninformed citizens didn't vote, the best candidate would be clear, and the best policies would be instituted our the government: that's the most important thing. When Will says, "good government - not the right to vote - is a fundamental human right.", he means that if you use your right to vote, use it wisely because this right comes with being informed on what your voting for. If you have no idea why there's a problem with health care, then you shouldn't really be voting.

Tucker D. said...

In my opinion, both Will and Dionne make valid points. When Will states that low voter turnout numbers are ok as long as the proper candidate is selected who will guide the county, he is essentially outlining many Americans beliefs that they do not know who to vote for and don’t want to make an uninformed decision. Dionne on the other hand says that all Americans should vote regardless of how much they know so that it is truly a democratic process. While both make good arguments, I agree more with Will in that individuals who are educated on the issues with the ideals of the nation in mind should be trusted to vote. The low number of voters in recent years is nothing to worry about considering the size of the nation has grown and the total number of voters is still a significant number and a majority.

Blake Ransom said...

Yes voter turnout is very important because with out it our democracy would not run as well as it should. It does come to an extent by how the voters need to be well informed with what is going on in the world. If they just vote to vote its a waste. They potentially would have wasted their vote and their time. Many people vote for sayings that they hear or stuff that sounds "cool" but if these people were really informed they would no the difference from the right choice then the wrong one.

Lauren Chilton said...

George Will's arguments are similar to my own point of view on whether modest voter participation in America is really something to worry about. Will strives for fair government, which I believe is critical to our nation. He argues that decreasing political turnout is nothing to stress over because we opperate on a fair government based system that maintains guaranteed political oppurtunity to all citizens.

Cate Crowe said...

George Will’s views most closely reflect my opinion. I believe that the fairness of the government is more important than the number of citizens who vote in a certain election. The government will remain fair as long as it continues to allow all qualified citizens to participate in the voting process. I also believe that the decline in the voter turn out is not a concerning factory because citizens should not vote in elections simply to vote, they should have a thorough understanding of politics and be informed on the issues.
-cate crowe

Sara MacDowell said...

My opinions coincide with those of George Will's. I believe that George Wills made an excellent point when he argued that fair government is more important than one hundred percent voter participation. Every citizen, as long as he/or she meets the voting requirements, is able to vote, and it is his/or her's responsibility to act on that ability. However, our election process seems to run smoothly because only well-informed and educated voters regularly participate. Our government might suffer if less-informed citizens were more involved in the voting process and lead to radical policy shifts. In my opinion, their absence on election day stabilizes the public policy and election process because well-informed and educated voters are the ones that are shaping our government and its policies. George Wills is correct in his assertion that "as long as fairness and political opportunity are guaranteed," our government should continue to run smoothly.

JulianneJacobs said...

My views more closely match those of George Will. People should be well-informed while voting so the best decisions can be made for our country. Those who are uninformed and that are absent on voting day should not be considered a huge loss. -Julianne Jacobs

Paxton S said...

A democracy is nothing without the people that function in it. "Dem" even comes from the Greek root meaning "people." It is no surprise, then, that a democracy needs its citizens to participate in government for it to function properly. This is why I agree with Dionne's ideas over Will's.

A majoritarian or pluralist democracy is better functioning and inherently more democratic than its elite counterpart. Democracy relies on the votes of the people and, more specifically, the majority. The elite democracy holds a smaller group's opinion of what is best for the country in the long-term over what the majority believes. This borders on oligarchy and could lead to potentially corrupt rule of the nation. Because self-interest and corruption are a part of human nature, an elite democracy cannot function as well as a pluralist one.

One of the main arguments for the elite democracy is that citizens who are uninformed about the issue are best left out of the poles. This makes sense to an extent, however voter stupidity is an issue in any election and cannot be accounted for. There is no guarantee that a person who has taken the time to vote is well informed about the issue or that voters who are more apathetic are not informed. To assume the extent that a voter understands the issue at hand based on their willingness to vote is irresponsible. Denying citizens of the right to vote based on their knowledge of the issue deprives them of their first-amendment-rights and is unconstitutional. A small amount of uninformed, wild-card voters is a fair price to pay for the equal protection of all political voices.

The pluralist democracy is more constitutional, democratic, and functional than any elite democratic system.

Eric M said...

In my personal opinion, George Will's philosophy, that good government through educated voting is essential to our political system, is far more on target than Dionne's opinion. What good are voters who do not understand the policies and candidates that they support? Blind voting is dangerous, as it leads to a tyranny of the majority. This type of uninformed voting can lead to detrimental consequences. "Ideal" levels of voter participation can be debated, however, in reality those individuals who are informed enough to make the effort to vote are the most valuable members in our system. The beauty of our political system is that participation is available to all citizens and it is optional. The result of this is a voting population that understands the proposed candidate or legislation at hand and cares enough regarding the issue and its potential impact on the nation to turn out to vote. This understanding leads to a more accurate representation of the views of the people. One of our nation's priorities should become to inform all Americans of the voting process and the issues at hand through adequate communication technology and equal distribution of information across a broad spectrum of socio-economic statuses. A well-informed population that is also active in government will best help our nation move forward.

Nick izzard said...

I would agree with George Will's point of view that "declining voter turnout is no cause for worry." The main component of this view that I strongly agree with is the idea that uninformed voters are unwanted in the voting process. This is true because unwanted voters have the potential to harm the outcome of the election not help it. If uninformed voters vote for random candidates, this could harm the chances of a good candidates success. This is not saying that voting should be restricted to only voters who have qualified to vote, just that if people aren't voting there is a reason behind it. If analysts are worried about the decline of government not should spend time worrying about voting turn out, but rather the quality of the government itself.

Nick izzard said...

I would agree with George Will's point of view "declining voter turnout is no cause for worry." The main component of this view that I strongly agree with is the idea that uninformed voters are unwanted in the voting process. This is true because unwanted voters have the potential to harm the outcome of the election not help it. If uninformed voters vote for random candidates, this could harm the chances of a good candidates success. This is not saying that voting should be restricted to only voters who have qualified to vote, just that if people aren't voting there is a reason behind it. If analysts are worried about the decline of government not should spend time worrying about voting turn out, but rather the quality of the government itself.

Cassidy Hansen said...

In my opinion, if a potential voter has no prior education about either of the candidates and their policies, they should not have the option to vote. It seems unreasonable that citizens are so concerned with the number of voter participation. When George Will’s states, “Good government –not the right to vote- is a fundamental human right” He is saying in order to have a stable government, it is a necessity for each voter to have prior knowledge of the candidates running in the race. If a potential voter doesn’t have any knowledge of either candidate then, the vote would be counted to (most likely) the unqualified candidate. I completely agree with George Will’s point of view because the voter turn out is unimportant and may even be beneficial.

Anonymous said...

I personally side with Will, who states, ”Declining voter turnout is no cause for worry...” I believe that the citizens that are informed about the election who want to vote and have an impact on the election should vote. They should vote for whom they want to win and who they believe will best represent in office based on the candidate’s values and beliefs. The uninformed people who go in and vote without knowing anything about any of the candidates may choose someone that has values that don’t line up with what America wants. This makes the right candidate lose votes and ultimately lose the election.
Preston Klein

Anonymous said...

I find that the beliefs of George Will would best describe my beliefs as well. It is important to have well informed voters, and if the uniformed vote just to go vote, this could alter the majority in the vote. Being informed about the candidates’ beliefs importance because if you don’t know who the candidate is and don’t know their political stance on things, it doesn’t do much good to vote for them if political views aren’t mutual. The result of these types of voters can be damaging the political process and may radically alter the political views that our government had prior to theses votes. This causes inconsistency and instability in our government if the change is too drastic. For these reasons, I agree with George Will in his belief that it is more important to have informed votes rather than having a larger voter turnout.
-Chris M.

Taylor Epperson said...

The lack voter participation in America has become an increasingly controversial issue recently. But, is it even an issue at all? Conservative columnist, George Will, argues that declining voter turnout is no cause for worry, as long as fairness and political opportunity are guaranteed. The elite democratic model of which Will refers to is the best form of government with regards to the voting process. The most important goal of an elite democracy is to promote general welfare. It requires an elite group of individuals capable of pursuing the long-term interests of society. Elite democracy allows the more informed voters be the judges because the people who don't normally vote also tend to be the least well-informed. The absence of less informed citizens, who are more prone to radical policy shifts, in elections actually adds a degree of stability to public policy and the political process. Elitists argue against majoritarian democracy, which encourages mass voter participation, by saying that those masses are too uninterested, incompetent or, at worst, dangerous to be given control over decision-making. Also, the masses of a majoritarian democracy will always be incapable of making decisions for the long-term common good because of its pluralistic nature. In this system, there are multiple centers of power and the power disbursed among several groups, creating a "polyarchy.” The polyarchy just invited arguments and shies away from compromising.

Michael Murph said...

Yes, voter turnout matters greatly. I agree with Dionne’s view on voter participation. Voting is a right given to all Americans, by the constitution. All Americans value having a government that is for the people and selected by the people. Being able to have an impact on who is elected is a huge privilege. Citizens who have the opportunity to vote should not take this privilege for granted. Less voter turnout is a big problem because this means that many people’s voices are not being heard. This affects politics greatly by making some elections unbalanced. Voter turnout truly does matter.

Jacob B. said...

Although it would be ideal for all Americans to want to be involved in the elections process, George Will brings up a good point that the people who don't vote tend do be the least informed. He also poses the question, "do we really want uninformed voters involved in the process of selecting our leaders?" I say no because it would be detrimental to the overall fairness of the election. People who are less informed tend to support more radical policy shifts, so in essence, their absence is beneficial to maintaining stability. Modest voter participation is not something to worry about too much. The bigger issue to address is informing citizens so they have the tools to make an educated vote.

Anonymous said...

I agree with George Will that voting is a right given to all American citizens and whether or not they chose to vote or not is up to the person. As well as voter participation is extremely important to our country. People who chose not to vote usually don’t care about political views, which I think is sad because it is how our country runs with order. If people chose to vote they should have some understanding of who they are voting for because uninformed voters can be easily swayed the wrong way and maybe not vote for the best candidate. With less and less people voting and being informed in what they are voting for or who they are voting for can cause huge problems. If people have personal views they should go and represent their views. Voting is a right, but should not be forced upon anyone who doesn’t want to.
- Megan Reynolds

Chris P said...

Voter turnout is often a subject of great interest for political scientists as it is one aspect of the electoral process that is least influenced by “participatory distortion.” That is to say that while it is obvious that money speaks on the Presidential campaign trail and citizens of higher education, income, and social status often have a greater capacity to actively participate in the electoral process, the ability to vote is a right for all citizens, a liberty that all can utilize no matter one’s standing in society. Whether or not American citizens choose to exercise this right is a different story. While I do not endorse the restriction of the voting box to any single minority, majority, or a limited fraction of the population in any matter, I do align myself with George Will’s perspective that declining voter turnout is no cause for worry.
When it comes down to it, those who care enough about the outcome of the presidential race and feel that their own lives have enough stakes in the results of the election are the ones who will show up on Election Day. Those who understand that the political system affects every facet of life for every member of the national community are most likely those who remain informed about the candidates and their policies and will choose the candidate that will best insure prosperity (promote the general welfare) for America during and after his/her term(s) in office. In fact, a drastic influx in the voter turnout could be detrimental to the political system. Erratic shifts in public opinion resulting from large amounts of infrequent and inexperienced voters caught up in political passion could cause rapid policy shifts that leave America unstable. George Will even describes that “high turnout and massive vote swings contributed to the political chaos that brought down Germany’s Weinmar Republic, enabling the Nazis to seize power” (1). Similar to the concept of the Trustee Model of Representation or the idea that Supreme Court Justices are accountable to the Constitution and the Social Contractrather than to a transient majoritarian will of the people, there may be some merit to the idea that a stable government—or “good government” in the words of Will—trumps the fact that only a portion of the population is participating in it. If a portion of society feels that it is underrepresented by the government and the elite democratic model that seems to take precedence (in today’s society), let them band together at the polls and make a change in the electorate. If not, then let those who care enough about the United States government be the ones who voice their opinions through the ballot box.

(1) Patterson, Thomas. The Vanishing Voter: Public Involvement in an Age of Uncertainty. New York: Knopf, 2002. 11. Amazon.com. Web. 3 Aug. 2012.

Chris P said...

Voter turnout is often a subject of great interest for political scientists as it is one aspect of the electoral process that is least influenced by “participatory distortion.” That is to say that while it is obvious that money speaks on the Presidential campaign trail and citizens of higher education, income, and social status often have a greater capacity to actively participate in the electoral process, the ability to vote is a right for all citizens, a liberty that all can utilize no matter one’s standing in society. Whether or not American citizens choose to exercise this right is a different story. While I do not endorse the restriction of the voting box to any single minority, majority, or a limited fraction of the population in any matter, I do align myself with George Will’s perspective that declining voter turnout is no cause for worry.

When it comes down to it, those who care enough about the outcome of the presidential race and feel that their own lives have enough stakes in the results of the election are the ones who will show up on Election Day. Those who understand that the political system affects every facet of life for every member of the national community are most likely those who remain informed about the candidates and their policies and will choose the candidate that will best insure prosperity (promote the general welfare) for America during and after his/her term(s) in office. In fact, a drastic influx in the voter turnout could be detrimental to the political system. Erratic shifts in public opinion resulting from large amounts of infrequent and inexperienced voters caught up in political passion could cause rapid policy shifts that leave America unstable. George Will even describes that “high turnout and massive vote swings contributed to the political chaos that brought down Germany’s Weinmar Republic, enabling the Nazis to seize power” (1). Similar to the concept of the Trustee Model of Representation or the idea that Supreme Court Justices are accountable to the Constitution and the Social Contractrather than to a transient majoritarian will of the people, there may be some merit to the idea that a stable government—or “good government” in the words of Will—trumps the fact that only a portion of the population is participating in it. If a portion of society feels that it is underrepresented by the government and the elite democratic model that seems to take precedence (in today’s society), let them band together at the polls and make a change in the electorate. If not, then let those who care enough about the United States government be the ones who voice their opinions through the ballot box.

(1) Patterson, Thomas. The Vanishing Voter: Public Involvement in an Age of Uncertainty. New York: Knopf, 2002. 11. Amazon.com. Web. 3 Aug. 2012.

Jake Fletcher said...

Yes i personally think it does matter, but not in the masses like everyone thinks it does. The popular vote really has no significance whatsoever. For example, if you vote for Obama in texas, you're vote counts for nothing because everyone knows Texas is pure republican and obviously but irrelevantly the best state. It matters that the election is in favor of the general welfare and doesn't produce a threat to it in any way, and as long as the general welfare is stable than the country is stable, no matter who is elected or what goes on.