How to solve low voter turnout in national elections (hint: mandatory city elections)

how-to-solve-low-voter-turnout-through-city-electionsIf you think universal voter turnout is an impossible pipe dream in the United States, because Congress would never enact a law requiring citizens to vote in elections, think again.

As explained in a proposal in The Atlantic by Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, we should start by focusing on a different level of government: cities.

Taking a city-by-city approach, reformers can enact new municipal policies and requirements that require voting in city-level elections — without any approval from Congress. The key is then to time those city elections so that they’re held at the same time as federal elections for Congress and the presidency.

Assuming that progressive, forward-looking cities take the lead, once set in motion the plan would compel holdout conservatives areas and states to follow suit to avoid ceding the turnout gains to progressive opponents. Soon the wave would sweep over the states, eventually producing near universal turnout.

The results would be transformative. As President Obama has said, “If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country.”

For more information, see “A Feasible Roadmap to Compulsory Voting,” The Atlantic (2015). Also check out “Voting Should Be Mandatory on America’s College Campuses,” Washington Monthly (2016).