EDITORIAL: Issue of voter disillusionment proves sprawling
Voter disillusionment is a real and pressing issue in our democracy.
Simply put, voter disillusionment means that people are off-put by the idea of voting, and as a result fail to do so, or do so reluctantly.
But where does this stem from? Are non-voters correct in their belief that democracy is not worth partaking in?
Disillusionment is caused by a number of factors, some unique to this year’s election, and some which exist regardless. Foremost, false information regarding campaigns, candidates and voting itself can turn people off from voting. Social media has exasperated this problem. Facebook is the prime example, with false information about both candidates running awry on the platform.“
Facebook, a key battleground for both presidential campaigns, has been most in the eye (due to) its billions of users. It has faced increasing scrutiny in recent months as domestic misinformation about this year’s election has proliferated,” according to the New York Times.
Still, misinformation is not the sole reason many are apathetic about the idea of voting. Part of it stems from legitimate corruption in political offices to combat against or suppress voting.
For instance, President Donald J. Trump has obstructed this year’s election before it even occurs, by suggesting he may not accept the results, which obviously prevents citizens from voting, as many people feel it is a futile effort regardless of who they vote for.
Additionally, the current administration is cutting funding for the United States Postal Service which, needless to say, is a critical institution when mail-in voting is expected to be widespread. The funding cuts serve to delay results and void ballots.
Trump himself also states that mass mail-in voting will equate to mass fraud, a claim that experts say is unsubstantiated.
“ … Trump has long railed against mail-in voting, falsely claiming it leads to rampant fraud … he continued to push the unsubstantiated claim that widespread voting by mail would lead to an abuse of the system,” according to National Public Radio (NPR).
But corruption and disinformation are not the sole reason many dismiss the action of voting. In addition, many feel that certain institutions, such as the electoral college, make tangible change futile, and in essence that their vote does not count for anything. NPR interviewed several non-voters to note their thoughts. One young man stated he did not view voting as an effective method of change.
“‘I don't believe it is actually effective to vote as a main method of accomplishing political change,' said Rand, a senior who studies anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Rand follows the news closely, he considers himself a political activist, but he's not a fan of the current two-party political system. ‘The system itself is stacked against the citizenry,’ he said,” according to NPR.
Essentially, people are disillusioned with democracy due to misinformation, political corruption extending to the highest beacons of power and a feeling that the system is rigged. There is only so much an individual can do about this, but that does not mean we should sit back and watch scores of voters continuously disengage with the system they operate within.
Politicians and the media who cover them need to provide clear information regarding the mail-in voting process, and why people should have faith their vote will count. If they cannot provide this information, it will become a question of whether we can have faith at all — but that is a whole different discussion.
A second stipulation which may help combat voting apathy would be to contact your representative and demand they put pressure on social media companies whose outlets spread misinformation. When information becomes clear and trustworthy, people will be more willing to vote.
Voting and participating in local government is also a solution to this. Community engagement is more likely to spur tangible change than federal participation anyways, and seeing that progress will help convert those with little faith in the system. Corruption does exist in local government, but with less money in play, it is easier to combat. Local politics are generally more hopeful, and seeing that hope spring into change will promote active participation in democracy.
Nobody is telling you to be excited about voting, but it is still important that you exercise your right to do so. Many people living in the United States, people who are directly and often most harshly impacted by the politicians in charge, cannot vote and would die to do so. Vote for their sake if not your own.
The current system is not perfect by any means, but it is the one we operate under, and it only works with active participants. Not only must you vote, but you must also do your part in preventing voter apathy — or else democracy itself ceases to function.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 152nd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.