We have a voting crisis in the United States right now, and it’s not the story we’re being told by Democrats, the media or even Republicans. It’s a crisis of poor and inconsistent voter involvement and engagement. It’s a crisis of finding compromise over voter integrity, which clearly does not exist by virtue of Russia’s ability to interfere with the 2016 elections and subsequent attempts in 2020. The United States does have problems with its voting, but it’s not in the way many may think.
During the 2020 presidential election, at least 158.8 million people voted for then-President Donald Trump or for Democratic nominee Joseph Biden. This staggering amount is 20 million more than the 137.5 million who turned out in 2016. It was also 25 million more than the 132.9 million who voted in the 2012 election.
Pew Research Center did an analysis of turnout rates in recent national elections of 35 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of self-described democratic and “market-oriented economies.” The United States ranked 30th out of 35 nations for which data are available. This is surprising and disappointing considering the power and wealth of the United States; however, it showcases that our voter crisis is far more complex than what meets the eye.
One of the very first problems we need to address is our low voter turnout and participation. While the 158.8 million that turned out in 2020 might seem impressive, the reality is that 80 million eligible Americans failed to show up to the polls. Too many Americans feel the process is rigged against them, that their vote doesn’t matter, and just don’t bother to participate at all, which is both an embarrassment and a catastrophe. The United States should represent the highest form of democratization, which also means having high and consistent voter participation, yet we find ourselves near the bottom of the barrel when compared with other industrialized nations.
While our main focus should be mobilizing and empowering Americans to vote, it is also important to place our attention on Russia and Vladimir Putin, who continuously seek to undermine the free and fair elections of the United States, which, as I see it, is a violation of U.S. sovereignty. A comprehensive look into Russian meddling by our intelligence agencies has made it clear that Russia is a consistent and present threat to the United States, not only by continuous attempts at interfering but also by spreading disinformation in an attempt to divide Americans based on their race and their ideological differences.
Russia has perhaps proven itself to be the greatest adversary in the history of the United States. Russia’s ability to infiltrate the United States in a way that has turned the country on itself from the inside out is akin to a third world war, even in the absence of any missiles being launched or troops being sent onto foreign soil. Our immediate attention should focus on how to thwart Russia’s continued attempts to create chaos within the United States as it attempts to reignite global Russian supremacy. However unlikely that may be, Putin’s Russia has been effective at one thing, and that’s weakening the United States by attacking our election process and sewing internal discord.
I point out each of these things not because I don’t believe that having fair elections is an essential part of democratic republic but because I believe that they, too, warrant our immediate attention, though they have gone ignored when compared to voter ID laws. From my perspective, having voter ID laws isn’t racist in nature, and requiring citizens to verify and show proof of who they are shouldn’t be a partisan issue. With that being said, however, I do believe that we must make access to IDs and other forms of identification easy, particularly for the poor and elderly. If we are able to accomplish this, I strongly believe that most people would have no problem with showcasing proof of identity to vote. It’s not a burden as long as people have easy access and the means to procure said requirements. Additionally, I disagree with states that prohibit people giving out water or basic snacks. It just seems unnecessarily cruel, particularly in areas where people wait in lines for hours and hours to cast their vote, so this is another thing we need to fix. It just doesn’t make sense that people have to wait in lines all day to vote. Maybe if we had a federal voting holiday where everyone was off and could vote, we could see historic numbers and consistent participation. Whatever we ultimately decide, we must compromise and create a system that works for all Americans regardless of race and socioeconomics.
A safe, but reasonably strong system is beneficial to our country and to all Americans. Regardless of whether your vote is cast for a Democrat or a Republican, each American has something to gain by strengthening our election process. Everyone wins and the country is better off when all voices can be fairly heard. To be abundantly clear, this isn’t a partisan issue, but an American issue. The sooner we put partisanship to the side, the better off we are. Combatting Russia, consistently improving voter turnout and engagement, and making an efficient and streamlined process for voters should be our focus.
Follow Armstrong Williams on Twitter: @Arightside.