America has Voting Fatigue

by Ekua Boateng // Published April 30, 2008
America is very democratic with elections every two years, with municipal elections in the odd years and presidential elections every four years. With this many opportunities to vote, it might lead to voter fatigue and voters rationalsing that it is only worth voting every four years. Therefore arguably the presidential elections cast a long shadow over all other competing elections at the municipal level. It would be a fallacy to say that presidential elections are not worthy of great attention, in saying that we should also remember that elected officials at the municipal level are more likely to have a day to day impact on the life of citizens. It would be wise to heed the adage not to put all your eggs in one basket, only voting in one election when there are opportunities to participate more often. The ironic thing is that the public has more confidence in local government versus the federal government, however municipal elections are most likely to be ignored by citizens.

Maybe voting is taken for granted, due to complacency? The United States has had a stable democracy for many years with no war on U.S. soil since the 19th century. Although there is a clash of civilizations going on, being "the war on terror", it's not part of everyday life but fundamental to the future of America and international relations. When the future development of your country depends on you casting a ballot, you don't think twice about not voting, you feel compelled to. Or has voting simply become irrelevant in an age of mass communication, email, text and social networking sites, is the only way to change opinion through protest and other non-conventional forms of political participation? Arguably protest is complementary rather than the antithesis of voting.

The most notable office of government and the highest office of government is the presidency, of course. However this is not to say that the other parts of government are any less worthy of citizen's attention. It is to this end that it is worth highlighting that state government is intimately and uniquely tied to the citizen in a way that the federal cannot be; it is the state government who deals with the administration of local and national elections, local school boards that help to shape the curriculum of schools, the municipal government who decides on the way waste is collected, it is the state who decides on how often to maintain the roads and decides the sales tax for their locality. It is the everyday and the mundane, but the crucial things that state government controls and makes scrutiny of their actions and policies worthwhile and there is no easier way to send a message to your elected officials than by voting in state and local elections. In light of the fact that there is an extensive set up at the local level, it's really worth thinking about whether or not voting at this level is not cost effective. Therefore voting in all elections is worthwhile and should not be a selective process, but an all embracing effort to support our civic duty to maintain a healthy and thriving democracy.