Changing the American voting experience


Voting in presidential elections could look similar to town carnivals.

Kevin Sentell , Guest Writer

On average, about sixty percent of potential voters in America vote in presidential elections. That means, there are hundreds of thousands of people choosing not to vote. Elections, therefore, could go in a completely different direction if the remaining forty percent of potential voters utilized their voting right. 

In order to increase voter turnout, we need to perceive the election in a different way than we do now. We need to foster a sense of patriotic pride for participating in elections, and make it a fun event to take part in. It needs to become another day in which Americans come together to celebrate the transition of power and all of the liberties and freedoms we enjoy in this great country. Similar to Fourth of July or Labor Day celebrations, we could make elections feel like a holiday to increase voter turnout.

In “Putting the Party Back into Politics”, written by Elizabeth M. Addonizio, Donald P. Green, and James M. Glaser, they attempted to see if Election Day festivities would influence voter turnout during an election. “Polling places have been drained of their celebratory elements, and the 85% rates of voter turnout that once accompanied them have disappeared.”

In the experiment, they went to multiple cities across the country and held festivities during government and state office elections. The festivities included food venues, live music, face painting, carnival games, play structures for children, and even booths for companies and universities to use for advertising. Volunteering at the event even gave students and employees community service hours. The results demonstrated that the voter turnout in those cities increased for that election. It is, therefore, important for us to consider whether or not to implement election festivities at all voting locations throughout the country. 

Holding festivities would create a fun, family-friendly environment during the election, and it could generate interest for local businesses. The festivities would be very patriotic and would promote pride throughout our country. The festivities could take place in large fields, convention centers, or in downtown areas. 

To participate in the festivities, the voter would have to pay a small fee, which could be used by the town to help pay for the event. There would be voting polls set up at the entrance and staff on site to help with crowd control and to ensure that voters follow the correct procedures. After voting, families could attend the festivities. Local businesses would sell products at booths, food would be served, and there would be games, rides, shows, petting zoos, parades, and a firework show at the end of the event. These events would likely take place a few weeks before the votes were counted so that the votes could be sent off. 

The festivities, which would take place over an entire weekend, would create an incentive for citizens to vote. If local businesses or vendors wanted to sell their products, they would have to vote before they could set up their booth. The parents and grandparents of the children participating in the parade would have to vote before they could enter the festival to view the parade. That Friday could be a national holiday, similar to Labor Day, so that businesses and schools would be closed to allow citizens to vote and attend the festival with their families. 

Another way to increase voter turnout would be to lower the voting age to sixteen. At sixteen, teenagers are given the responsibility to drive, so why can’t they cast their vote in presidential elections? Teenagers would likely participate because they could attend the festival as a group, and to enter the event they would first have to vote. 

For the citizens who wanted to vote early, all they would have to do to attend the festival is present proof of their vote.  

We need to find ways to increase voter turnout in America in order to accurately represent the voices in our country. Festivities would be the best way to promote voter participation, because it would also generate interest and revenue for the town and its local businesses. The festival would promote unity and patriotism, and would change the perception of the election experience for the better.