The United States has 220 million citizens who are eligible to vote, but less than two-thirds of them (142 million) are registered. And only 83 million actually participated in the last election cycle. This means that, instead of being decided by a majority, our elections can be determined by a minority that’s less than 20 percent of the adult population.
This low turnout isn’t merely due to disinterest, either. Many are concerned about many issues; they think their representatives don’t actually represent them after being elected, though, and that only care about donors and lobbyists, instead. Because of this, too many have a “my vote doesn’t count” attitude.
There’s a new app, though, that might help citizens improve the weight of their votes, and hopefully encourage them to turn out next Election Day.
PlaceAVote lets users record their stances on current legislation and specific issues, and then provides that data directly to their specific legislators.
Says its website:
Our representatives seem to represent their biggest donors, not us. Our voice is blocked by the money that gets politicians into power.
Let’s vote representatives into congress who want to listen and act on the voice of their voters. Let’s use technology to prioritize the issues we care about and loudly communicate them to those we put in power as our delegates.
And all anyone has to do to access this program is sign up from the bottom of the site’s homepage. PlaceAVote will verify that its participants are registered voters through a two-step process. It will then allow them to anonymously vote and comment on particular bills before they’re reviewed by Congress. Responses can be divvied up by district, then directly relayed to the elected officials of those districts. In following, legislators – who are supposed to be working on their behalf – can be encouraged to vote the way constituents want.
PlaceAVote promises to verify accuracy of its data and protect its users’ privacy. It also hopes to develop new features, such as user creation of bills that can be voted on by others, and then sent to legislators.
Through this medium of relevant topics and bridge of direct communication, PlaceAVote could help many overcome their “my vote doesn’t count” concerns – and especially those who feel the most excluded by government.
The population group with lowest voter turnout is young. Less than half of Americans aged 18-to-29 are registered to vote, for example, and less than half of that group (only 20 percent of this entire age range) participate in elections. The reason for their low turnout? Frustration – they think government ignores their needs, and is thus inefficient.
The same low voter turnout is found by income. Less than half of Americans who make under $30,000 are registered, and only 20 percent of this group actually votes. And both the young and lower income groups are higher than average in minority/non-white ethnicity population, too, which is another group that has below-average voter turnout.
It’s these same groups – young, lower income, and minority – that are most dependent on smartphones. And not just as accessories, either; these groups use smartphones instead of landlines, and 32 percent of all Americans have little if any other access to the internet except through these devices.
They already use smartphones for access to relevant information, too; 68 percent say they use their devices to follow current news (more than the percentage who use their phones to take pictures!), and 40 percent use their smartphones to search information about government and politics.
So could PlaceAVote get these particular folks to participate in elections? Let’s hope so. These groups of Americans who currently don’t vote? They hold progressive stances: peace; proper taxation; personal privacy.
If PlaceAVote can help them get their views across in order to achieve proper representation, and encourage them to turn out on Election Day, then maybe that long-time goal of government of, by, and for the people can be achieved.