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?

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  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting

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 


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