In the last presidential election, the available voting population who actually voted for the candidate of their choice was about 53%. This means that close to half (47%) of the people who could vote, didn't. If that statistic alarms you - and it should - then perhaps you will also agree that something should be done about it. But what?
"There is no safe seat at the feast. Take your best stab at the beast."
Giving employees paid time off to vote hasn't worked. Most states require employers to give their employees paid time off to vote (usually two to three hours, which is a pretty reasonable amount of time for tackling long voting lines). Some other states’ laws say that an employee can take time off for “as long as it reasonably takes to vote”. But so far, this hasn't really been very effective because the non-voting bloc hasn't significantly increased or decreased in over 16 years (or 4 presidential voting cycles), perhaps longer.
Early voting hasn't worked. Early voting has been around for the last few voting cycles, with some states allowing voting as early as two weeks in advance of the actual first-Tuesday-in-November voting date. The idea here being that voters are not limited to a single day, that voting lines will not be as long, and that it provides an avenue for voters to cast their ballot at a time that is more convenient to their schedule - whatever that schedule happens to be.
"Voting by mail" is the current champion of the left side of the political aisle. Previously referred to as "absentee voting", the primary idea is that voting by mail, where it has been implemented, has resulted in lowered election administration costs by as much as 40% and increased voter turnout by as much as 10%. It also is reported to boost down-ballot engagement - something that I am particularly interested in promoting (by the way, vote for me). I'm not going to go much farther into the arguments for or against vote by mail because it is currently being argued across the political spectrum, but for the record I have no issue with the idea.
"The cosmic is largely comic, a con they couldn't conceal."
But here's the real reason why these non-voters remain the non-voters according to the many people I have personally talked to about it; in a word, apathy - they simply don't care. It has nothing whatsoever to do with their ability to vote, and everything to do with the quality of the candidates they are being asked to choose from. From what I have seen and heard, the larger population of these non-voters are genuinely disaffected (mostly younger-generation) voters who believe that none of the candidates, especially those at the top of the ticket and regardless of political party (mine included), care about their issues and even if the candidate did care, they also feel that their vote wouldn't count anyway, so why bother?
A few people with whom I talked (at different times and in different places) cited the same example. During the 2016 primary election season, a large number of these disaffected voters were very excited for - and supported - the nomination of Bernie Sanders for the Democratic ticket. At the time, they felt that he truly spoke to the issues that mattered most to them where the others candidates didn't. Bernie, for his part, had excited many of the younger-generation voters in a way that had not been seen in professional politics since the 1970s, and of course the Democrats wanted what he had. Then, at the last minute, when he very suddenly dropped out of the nomination race and attempted to endorse Hillary Clinton, most of those same voters simply vanished. Conspiracy theories abound regarding Sanders' sudden change, but the net effect seemed to be that those voters who were excited about his candidacy were simply not excited about the other candidates.
"Reasoning is partly insane, image just an eyeless game."
But here's the real question for the Old Parties, and from what I can see, there really is no way to get around it no matter how hard you might try: if trying to get even a portion of the 47% of non-voters into the voting booth to vote for the candidates on your ticket is important, then why are they continuing to put up the same (and sometimes worse) candidates cycle after cycle? Their faces - and even genders - may change, but they are all still the same person. The Libertarians, for their part, have selected a multi-generational ticket. The POTUS candidate is from the "late Boomer/early GenX" generation, and the VPOTUS candidate is from the "Millennial" generation. It seems to me that whatever issue you believe is important will likely be addressed by one or the other of these candidates. Why not give them a look? What do you really have to lose? Otherwise, you are left with whatever candidates the Old Parties have chosen; a person that the members of their party might think is absolutely great, but that these voters - whom they say they want to vote for their candidates - think is just another angry old codger sitting on his porch yelling at the kids to get off his lawn.
Prove me wrong.
A Tangent: What Voting Means
There are two aspects to every vote; the quantitative and the representative. The quantitative is a simple ‘how many votes the candidate received’. It supports the binary “win/lose” thinking and is the root of most voters’ apathy because they believe that their vote won’t count.
Then, there’s the representative aspect; the one that says “I’m voting for the candidate whose views most closely represent my own”. That is the aspect that people should be focusing on, but don’t because it requires the voter to choose based on something other than projected vote counts.
A lot of people are focusing on the wrong things when it comes to voting (and have for a long time). For what it’s worth, consider voting using the representative aspect. That is making your voice heard. That is what voting is supposed to be about.