The Act of Voting and Democratic Deficiency

Imprimer

I recently voted by mail in Switzerland and the United States. Historically, less than half of registered Swiss voters actually vote, although the number was higher this time. In the United States, the percentage is slightly higher depending on whether the vote is for the president, vice-president and members of Congress or only for members of Congress in mid-term elections. In both Switzerland and the United States, supposed beacons of democracy, the percentage of eligible voters actually voting should be higher. Beyond the obvious analyses of the Swiss results on September 27 or the U.S results on November 4, there remains the question of why more people don’t vote.

While I am confident that my vote in Switzerland was accurately counted – I have heard of no conscious attempts at fraud – voting is complicated as the U.S. election will show. A Swiss/American friend said of the U.S. vote in 2016: “There will be no election.” He was sure the election would be cancelled. After the election, he amended that to say: “It doesn’t make any difference who wins. They’re all the same.”
Does voting make a difference? If voting is the backbone of democracy, the percentage of voters should be well over 50%. Getting the right to vote is prized by many. Others see little relation between their daily lives and voting. For all those who fought in courts or stand in line for hours to vote, there are an equal number of citizens who do not exercise their legal right.
What is the relation between voting and democracy? Democracy has two elements. The first, and most obvious, is the holding of elections. But, as we are seeing in Belarus, and potentially in the United States, the holding of elections is a necessary but not sufficient part of democratic rule. Behind the holding of elections is a democratic culture, the rule of law and the separation of government powers.
The deeper element of democracy includes all the parts of a democratic culture, including a feeling that the result of the voting has a direct influence on our daily lives. For my friend, there was little if no difference between a Republican or Democrat in the White House. To him, both parties were ruled by oligarchs who pull the strings behind the scenes.
And, I imagine, for the large percentage of people who do not vote, there is little relationship between voting, the issues decided and their daily lives. If the issues to be decided were deemed crucial, I assume that more people would vote.
Why is there such a separation between the act of voting and the perception of the daily life? I voted in both countries with strong feelings. I saw a direct cause and effect between my vote and how I live and want to live. But what about the others? What about those who didn’t vote? (This is not part of a campaign for getting out the vote.)
I am curious about people who don’t vote. My friend was political; he had very strong views about the world but didn’t see any relation between voting and change. On the other hand, I assume that people who don’t vote may see no relation between voting and what happens to them. They are, in a sense, apolitical.
It’s not as if celebrities in the United States have not tried to get people to vote. Michelle Obama wore a "vote" necklace during her speech to the 2020 Democratic National Convention in August, a reminder to those who followed the convention and her speech. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $100 million to help Democrats register people to vote in Florida. NBA basketball star LeBron James has a multimillion dollar organization to help register people to vote in Black areas, recruit poll workers and pay fines for felons to be eligible to vote.
But why should all of this be necessary? We know that in the United States Republicans are making every effort to keep people away from voting since a larger turnout is advantageous to Democrats. But even so, the number of people voting in the United States and Switzerland is generally below 50% of those eligible.
When I am asked if I am a Democrat, I respond that I am a democrat first, and then a Democrat. As a democrat, I am more than worried about the roughly 50% of eligible voters who do not vote in the United States and Switzerland. That is a true democratic deficiency.

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Commentaires

  • Switzerland is probably the only country in the world where voting does make a difference. The only reason I can think of why people don't vote here is laziness.

  • Seeing how close some results were this week-end, I can't imagine that potential Swiss voters can say that voting makes no difference.
    There is laziness for sure but also a kind of smugness, as if people felt that any way, we'll be OK and so they can spend their time and energy doing "more important" or " more interresting things".
    You could say that they trust others to take care of the community, which ends up being very irresponsible.
    I often think that my vote counts triple.
    It's unfair, in a sense, but that's the result of the civic non-involvement.

  • Comme vous avez raison de conditionner la démocratie a la séparation des pouvoirs. Celle-ci peut faire la différence entre un gouvernement démocrate élu démocratiquement et un despote élu démocratiquement. Si un chef de gouvernement élu démocratiquement se débrouille pour mettre des hommes a lui a des postes-clé ne devant pas etre orientés politiquement comme le Tribunal Supreme, les institutions de controle des dépenses publics ou les chaines publiques TV-radio par exemple, ce chef de gouvernement devient de fait un despote. Il me parait a cet égard dommage pour la démocratie que les membres du Tribunal Spreme américain puisse etre en majorité d`un coté ou de l`autre du bipole démocrate-républicain.

  • Je suis tombé sur ces données de l'US Census Bureau, rapportées sous forme de camembert dans le Washington Post. Sans commentaires.

    Participation populaire aux élections de 2016 :

    Non inscrits : 28,6 %
    N'ont pas voté : 29,9 %
    Clinton : 19,8 %
    Trump : 19,5 %
    Autres : 2,2 %

  • En voyant hier le "débat" (tout au plus un dialogue de sourds) Biden-Trump, on se demande comment des millions d`Américains peuvent-ils se reconnaitre dans un président incapable de dialoguer, de se maitriser et pour lequel l`insulte tient lieu d`argumentaire. Si les Démocrates parviennent a renvoyer Trump dans sa Golden Tower, ils devraient se poser cette question tres sérieusement car si Trump aura apporté quelque chose aux USA, c`est la prise de conscience que quelque chose ne tourne vraiment pas rond dans la société américaine.

  • Hier autant Trump que Bieden ont confirmé que la Démocratie américaine est au bout de souffle voire au bout du rouleau. J ai toujours pensé qu il n y aurait pas de grande différence entre le futur président des Répu-Crates et les Démo-Publicains. Ils ne respecteraient pas ni les leurs adversaires ni leurs citoyens. C est dommage de répéter qu on a toujours les Gouvernants que le niveau du Peuple mérite. et vice versa. Bieden reproche à Trump d être le petit chiot de Poutine et Trump insulte les Démocrates d être des socialistes de gauche où être de Gauche aux USA, si c est vrai!, devient un crime odieux...

    Bien à Vous.
    Charles 05

    Regardez ces deux acteurs qui sont plus drôles!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6Fph-YSyuI

  • "As a democrat, I am more than worried about the roughly 50% of eligible voters who do not vote in the United States and Switzerland. That is a true democratic deficiency."

    Are you speaking of democracy in the US, or in CH?
    Your Comparison between our countries is not a fact.

    Switzerland has never built its democracy on invasion, which is the case of the US power still in power. i

    "I often think, that my vote counts triple", says this immigrant coming from N. UE, whose familiy transited via Germany, considered as not sufficently financially attractive, to Switzerland, employed but not formed, to instruct German in French Sectors of Switzerland.

    Such a comment from this Finnish migrant is more than weird, yet accountant for the low degree of integration in our country.

    Cette ex enseignante d'origine finnoise, censée apprendre l'allemand, à Genève qui plus est en LV2 et sans aucun diplôme, n'a eu ni les compétences, ni passé sa vie à bosser 42h/hebdo, 52 semaines/an, pour toucher sa retraite plein pot.

    Mais cette Finnoise a réussi à passer sa vie à se faire enregistrer sur le registre des fonctionnaires Genevois, dont les contribuables sont tributaires et payeurs à vie.

    Soutien et Merci à ceux qui comprennent ce dont il s'agit.

  • Les attaques personnelles répétées, fondées sur des renseignements incomplets et donc carrément faux sont un peu pénibles à lire. Et pas réellement en rapport avec le billet.

    Quand il n'y a que 30 % de participation, les voix exprimées par ceux qui ont décidé de voter ont davantage de poids. La faute n'en incombe pas à ceux qui votent, mais à ceux qui s'abstiennent. C'est une généralité qui dépasse mon cas individuel.

    Le fait que des personnes naturalisées suite à des démarces légales puissent voter est difficile à accepter, je peux le concevoir. Heureusement, il existe la possibilité d'agir par les instruments de la démocratie directe pour modifier cet état de fait.

    Quand on est sous pseudo et que l'on donne des renseignements personnels, il est difficile pour les lecteurs des commentaires de vérifier les informations. Si l'on pense qu'il est possible d'enseigner au DIP sans formation aucune, il faut se renseigner.
    Même les remplaçants ont des critères à remplir.

  • Allons bon, le couple Trump est tout d`un coup déclaré positif au test Covid... Vrai ou non, cela devrait etre un bon prétexte pour Trump d`ajourner les élections puisqu`en principe cela devrait stopper les apparition publiques et donc la campagne du grand homme. Aie aie aie...

  • Cher Daniel,
    Ce débat sur l'absentéisme électoral est un faux débat. En tout cas en ce qui concerne la Suisse.
    Comme tu le constates désormais en tant que néo-helvète, en Suisse on vote beaucoup, plusieurs fois par année, sur des sujets parfois abscons. Il est normal donc que si un sujet n'intéresse pas ou est trop compliqué pour un électeur moyen, celui-ci s'abstienne, pour au contraire voter la fois suivante sur un sujet qui le passionne.
    En d'autres termes, je pense que la plupart des citoyens lambda votent au moins une ou deux fois par année. Du coup l'abstention dont se désolent certaines commentateurs devient une notion tout à fait relative.
    Amicalement

  • Campaigning for public office is a business. Gaining the job of the US presidency requires full time participation and massive amounts of money. Highly skilled professionals are hired to design strategies and tactics to market their candidate. Searching for dirt on the opponent is an essential element. Hillary Clinton spent at least two years of her life and $768 million petitioning for the position and she lost. Who is willing to do this type of pandering and is that really the type of person best suited for the position? The public has no part in the primaries and candidates are selected for their marketability in the aforementioned theater.
    Biden appears less unappealing than Trump. If one listens to his hour long speech, however, when head of Foreign Relations, promoting the Iraq War, it's not that certain. It was a mistake he admits now. Oh well, we all make mistakes. And there is so much more...... Vote we tell people. For one of these two candidates?????

    On voting itself, there is no need for people to stand in line for long periods. This is ridiculous. In Oregon, we have a painless system of mail in or drop box and it should be consistent throughout the country. Worthy candidates and a simple voting system may sound radical but seem a worthy goal.

  • Qui, du coté Démocrate, a vérifié que le bonhomme est vraiment infecté ? Depuis le début, tout est mensonge et poudre aux yeux autour de ce type. Biden a raison, c`est un menteur pathologique. Il prétend protéger les pauvres contre les riches alors qu`il vit dans le luxe le plus tapageur depuis qu`il est né. Il prétend représenter la moralité chrétienne alors qu`il fraude le fisc, a régulierement fricoté avec des call-girls meme apres son mariage et dieu sait quoi d`autre encore. Il prétend combattre le crime importé alors que les gangs latinos ultra-violents ne se sont jamais aussi bien portés aux USA. Il prétend etre le champion de l`ordre alors qu`il protege les milices armées qui se baladent dans les rues américaines avec des armes de guerre (on dirait Kaboul). Il protege etre le champion de la paix alors qu`il n`a pas levé le petit doigt contre le terrorisme islamiste. Etc... etc...

  • We have expressed reasons here for not voting in US recent presidential election. Low voter turnout, however, has existed for many years. Reasons stated in surveys are lack of knowledge, apathy/burnout, no 3rd party, registration problems, access, not eligible, contempt for politics, voter suppression, makes no difference etc. One might expect 10 or 15% of a nation to fit in these categories. But half the population? Do we have reason to believe these people would give us better results?

    Maybe every person on turning 18 should be required to register to vote. If males must do so for conscription purposes, so should all citizens be familiar with the process - albeit not required to vote. It might help if candidates were not obliged to swear unwavering loyalty to God and Israel as proof of fitness. This violates the Constitution. There are, as well, no educational nor experience requirements. Oddly, the Bible is opposed to taking oaths as it suggests you are lying the rest of the time. Neither is abortion forbidden in the Bible. There is one reference to giving some shekels to the husband if miscarriage caused by accident.
    Immigration, abortion, same sex marriage, universal health care and endless wars, are examples of hot button issues and candidates are in opposition regarding them. Maybe climate change... Hard to believe that half the population is not opinionated here.

  • The following 2 extracts from today's edition of the Sydney Morning Herald might be useful to the readers whose ears still resound with Trump's "greatest democracy in the world"
    1. "This system was not intended as a democracy but as a republic. This is an essential starting point for grasping the US crisis.
    "A republic, if you can keep it," Benjamin Franklin said in 1787 when constituents asked what the founding fathers at Philadelphia had agreed on. One designed, he could have added, to use a creation called the electoral college to thwart popular rule.
    2. "Says former president Barack Obama, "We really are the only advanced democracy on earth that systematically and purposely makes it really hard for people to vote.""

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