Basket of restorables: U.S. non-voters

Congrats, America. We hold bragging rights over Latvia and Chile when it comes to voter turnout. A Pew Research Center report shows that the United States ranked 31st among 35 countries in the OECD. It said 53.6 percent of the voting-age population voted in the 2012 presidential election. Belgium topped the list with 87 percent turnout in a 2015 election.

One could hillary_clinton_official_secretary_of_state_portrait_cropdescribe the ranking as “deplorable,” but it also makes the electorate “restorable.” In the 1960s, turnout in U.S. presidential elections topped 60 percent, despite attempts by Southern states to restrict voting rights of racial minorities.

Belgium and other countries with high turnout rates have compulsory voting laws. The Pew report notes that Chile’s turnout decreased significantly when it switched from mandatory to voluntary voting. Compulsory voting isn’t going to fly in don’t-tell-me-what-to-do America.

But allowing voter registration on Election Day makes a big difference. A Washington Post story that looked at a Nonprofit Vote study said: “Of the nine jurisdictions where Election Day registration was an option last year (2012), seven placed in the top 20 in overall turnout, including Minnesota.” Minnesota had the highest turnout, with 76.1 percent; while Hawaii was lowest, at 44.5 percent.

The campaigns of Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are focused on turnout, especially in swing states, in the final weeks before the Nov. 8 election.

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