Make America Vote Again

The United States trails far behind most advanced democracies when it comes to voter turnout, with just 55 percent of eligible voters participating in the 2016 election. What are other countries doing right, and what is the United States doing wrong?

Play Button Pause Button
0:00 0:00
x
Host
  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting
Credits

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Rafaela Siewert - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • David Becker
    Executive Director, Center for Election Innovation & Research
  • Kristen Clarke
    President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Rosalind Dixon
    Professor of Law, University of New South Wales

Show Notes

According to a 2018 Pew Research Center study, the United States places twenty-sixth out of thirty-two advanced democracies in terms of voter turnout. Experts say that low turnout undercuts democracy at home by allowing politicians to play to their base and ignore the needs of groups that consistently don’t vote. In addition, low turnout harms the United States’ reputation as a champion of democracy abroad. The forces that contribute to this problem are manifold, including apathy, declining voter education, political gamesmanship, and systemic issues of disenfranchisement and voter suppression. 

 

In this episode, three experts examine the problem and contrast the United States’ complex voting system with methods that have led to far better turnout abroad, such as Australia’s system of mandatory voting.

 

From CFR

 

How Will U.S. Elections Be Judged by Other Democracies?,” James McBride

 

From Guests

 

Voting Rights Project

 

Read More

 

U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout,” Pew Research Center

 

Why US voter turnout lags behind other advanced democracies,” Vox

 

Voter Turnout Trends around the World [PDF],” Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

 

The 100 Million Project: The Untold Story of American Non-Voters [PDF],” Knight Foundation

 

Americans will head to the polls in a week. Here’s why some won’t.,” Washington Post 

 

Voting Rights Act,” Brennan Center for Justice

 

House Passes Voting Rights Bill Despite Near Unanimous Republican Opposition,” New York Times

 

A History of the Voting Rights Act,” American Civil Liberties Union

 

Watch or Listen

 

Which Countries Have the Highest Voter Turnout?,” Council on Foreign Relations

 

Why Millions Of Eligible Americans Don’t Vote,” NPR

 

Why Americans Don’t Vote (and What to Do About It),” New York Times 

Maternal and Child Health

In the past thirty years, sixty countries have expanded access to abortion care as an underpinning of maternal health. The 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade made the United States the fourth country ever to decrease access to abortion—and the world took notice. Some countries have since reinforced protections for abortion care, while others have moved to further restrict it.

India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the most popular man in India. On track to be elected for a third term, he has boosted the country’s global standing and propelled strong economic growth while consolidating power and galvanizing majoritarian support for his Hindu nationalist agenda—all while growing closer to the United States. How could Hindu nationalism reshape India?

Media

In a wide-ranging conversation, Foreign Affairs Editor Dan Kurtz-Phelan joins Why It Matters to discuss nonpartisan publishing in a polarized political climate, the state of press freedom around the world, and the future of journalism.

Top Stories on CFR

 

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

The war in Ukraine marks a new era of instability in Europe. Countering Russia’s efforts will require a stronger, more coordinated NATO.

China

After the rise of Chinese power during the 2010s and failed U.S. policies in the Indo-Pacific, the United States should renew the Pivot to Asia and place the region at the center of its grand strategy.*