Saturday, March 02, 2019

Turning Out the Turnout: How America Stacks Up in Voting

We just wrapped up a three part series on where America ranks in terms of overall freedom, income inequality and healthcare, and education. Despite the hype of being the "Leader of the Free World", we actually are pretty far down the pole. In fact, as many of you know, America is on the low end of the industrialized West and in some areas, actually among second tier nations. Not good folks. Not good at all. So, I was thinking "why don't we do something about that?". Our Founding Fathers gave us two options to change our government. The first was the ballot box. The second was the ammo box. Obviously, we'd prefer the former to the latter but that depends on the options the government gives us.
As a result, I wanted to know where America ranks in terms of voting. After all, isn't voting the hallmark of a democracy or democratic Republic? Of course, we're now a Oligarchy with a professional political ruling class comprised of plutocrats, but how has that affected our ability to influence government?

According to 2018 Pew Research study, the nation with the highest voter turnout is Belgium with a turnout of between 83% and 95% and it's been that over the last 40 years. That's pretty impressive! Next on the list is Sweden with just over 85% of registered voters showing up at the polls. Following Sweden was Denmark with a little over 80% of the voting age population voting. In fourth place was the nation down under, Australia, which had almost 79% of its voting age population coming out to vote. South Korea rounded out the top five with just under 79% of its voting age citizens voting. Other countries in the top 20 include Norway (70%), France (78%), Mexico (66%), UK (63%), and Greece (62%).

So, if the US---the "Leader of the Free World"---isn't in the top 20 in voter turnout, just where are we ranked? The US is in 26th place, behind nations like Estonia and Spain and just ahead of Slovenia, Chile, and Poland. According the study, just 55.70% of the voting age population bothers to vote. That's just slightly over half of the population. But the good news is that according to another Pew study, this time from 2013, the US ranked 31st out of 34 countries. In 2018, we were 26 out of 34 industrially developed nations. I can hear chants of "USA USA USA" now!

As a nation, we pretty much stink when it comes to showing up at the polls. But, then there's not much to vote for when you're an Oligarchy right? After all, they literally own both parties and their politicians. It also means they control policy but, at least according to Citizens United and people like Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), money is free speech. Of course, corporations are allowed far more " free speech" than flesh and blood citizens and that means more access and control; even to the point of writing or co-writing legislation. They fund campaigns and fill party coffers on both sides of the aisle. Partisan politics is really about which corporate clique gets what they want and who gets the crumbs. Naturally you and I get stuck with the bill.

Well, if we're so dismal when compared to the rest of the world, how do we stack up against each other? According to several reports, the most recent data (from 2016) shows that in 10th place, the highest voter turnout was Louisiana, which by the way, has the third highest poverty rate in the US. In 9th place was Mississippi. Voter turnout out was 67%. The 8th place winner was Massachusetts with a 68% turnout. The 7th spot went to Nebraska which had a voter turnout of 68%. Coming in 6th place was Oregon with 69%.

The state making it into the 5th spot was Iowa with 69.6%. 4th place went to New Hampshire, but not by much! It's voter turnout was 69.8%! The 3rd place winner was Maine with a 70.8% voter turnout. The "bridesmaid" state at number two was Wisconsin which had a impressive 73% voter turnout. Finally, the state with the highest voter turnout was Minnesota! Minnesota has a amazing turnout of 74.5%! That's nearly three in four voters who showed up to vote. That's outstanding by any measure. In case you're interested, out of the top ten, seven of the states went Democrat while only three went Republican.

Now that we looked at the ten best, who were the ten worse? What ten states cared the least about showing up to vote? In the 10th spot was the Peachtree state of Georgia. It's voter turnout was 59.3%. In 9th place was New York with 59.2%. The 8th place spot belonged to Arizona, which had 58.4%. 7th place went to Oklahoma. They had a voter turnout of 58.3%. Coming in 6th was Nevada with only 57.7% showing up to vote.

Now we get into the top five, which brings us to Texas. You would think their voter turnout would have put them on the other list, but nope. Texas had a voter turnout of just 55.3%. Well, at least Texas wasn't Tennessee which came in 4th place with a voter turnout of only 54.9%. In 3rd place is Arkansas which had a turnout of 54.3%. The runner up for the worse of the worse in voter turnout belongs to West Virginia. West Virginia had only 52.9%. Yikes! Finally, in first (or last) place, depending on how you look at it was Hawaii. The 50th state showed up with only half its population bothering to voter---50% exactly. Seven of the bottom ten tend to vote Republican by the way. I don't know if I should offer my congratulations or condolences.

Some other entries include Delaware in 12th place with a 66.6% turnout, Michigan in 15th place with 66.1%, Alaska in the 20th spot with 64.6%, Ohio at 25 with 63.5% turnout, Florida making the 32nd spot with 62.2%, Kentucky in 36th place with 61.1% voting, California came in 38th with 60.3%, Indiana was 40th with 59.5%. An interesting aside is that for the majority of the states, it's the older voters who tend to come out consistently. Younger voters (mostly the Millennials) tend to stay away, but they seem to also be the most vocal when it comes to politics. Guess it want to change things you have to stop bellyaching and actually show up. Just saying you know. Women are also more likely to vote than men. I guess they took that 19th Amendment pretty seriously! They certainly fought long and hard for it.

So what does this tell us? Well, it seems to go hand-in-hand with the results of our other results in that the rhetoric of the US being the world leader in democracy doesn't match the reality of where American actually stands. It also shows the frustration that Americans feel toward politics. Most Americans are turned off by all the childish and petty playground drama which seems to define not just Washington but state capitals and local city halls. Of course, we already know the distain from Washington is reciprocated to us out here in "flyover country". They don't even pretend to listen to us anymore. Hell, they don't even have the decency to lie to us anymore. Have you noticed how many tied elections we've had recently? How many contested elections? How the fact that the 2016 Democratic Primary was fixed and nothing actually happened!? They just do as they please and leave it to the corporate controlled media to spin it however they want.

We can, of course, change this...if we really want to. Washington and others want us to believe they have the power and control. They don't. We do. Unlike countries like the UK where the government simply ignores the decision of the voters (such as with Brexit) and the voters have little recourse, we have options. Americans need to demand term limits and an end to partisan gerrymandering of districts. We can demand a level playing field, and that includes third parties and Independents, who also just so happen to be America's largest voting bloc, and this includes opening up debates and equal access to the media. We also need to remove corporate money from politics which all but eliminates other groups and individuals from having a voice. That, of course, means dropping "Citizens United". As an aside, we can all start supporting and voting for non-lawyers and corporate VIPs like teachers, police officers, firefighters, blue collar workers, small business owners, and so forth; in other words, we can start electing individuals who are like us rather than millionaires and other elites.

It's up to you. We have the power and the ballot box least for the moment...our best option. However, if we're to preserve what's left of our Republic (which isn't very much as the numbers have repeatedly shown us), then we must act now. We can't wait and there won't be a second chance.

US voter trails most developed countries in voter turnout

Americans Don't Show Up at the Polls But Neither Do the Swiss

States With the Highest (and Lowest) Voter Turnout

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