What factors determine whether people turn out to vote in US elections? Would the use of direct democracy increase turnout or decrease turnout? Why? Should states continue to allow ballot initiatives and other forms of direct democracy? Why or why not?  

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People in battleground states tend to be more vocal voters. People whose states tend to go predominantly for one party or another do not vote as often because they feel as though their votes do not matter as much. In terms of demographics, older whites tend to be the most...

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People in battleground states tend to be more vocal voters. People whose states tend to go predominantly for one party or another do not vote as often because they feel as though their votes do not matter as much. In terms of demographics, older whites tend to be the most consistent voters. Presidential elections tend to garner the largest voter turnouts and many off-year elections are decided by smaller margins than presidential elections.

Voter initiatives on the ballots often encourage higher turnouts because there is a single issue involved, thus making it easier to form an opinion on the issue. The issues are decided through direct democracy, and this also encourages more voters to come out. Direct initiatives are important as they allow the voters to decide issues that are important to their localities. While they may be ineffective at the national level, they are valuable at the municipal and state levels.

Many voters claim rightly that they do not vote directly for the president, and there is some push to remove the Electoral College and replace it with direct democracy nationwide. People who want direct democracy find "one person, one vote" appealing. People who wish to continue the Electoral College system see it as a way of preserving the power of small states in picking the president and also for ensuring that candidates have to appeal to voters who live outside of large cities. I am in favor of keeping the Electoral College system, as it is more efficient at the national level in picking out the president. Direct democracy works best at the local and state level when an issue directly affects a smaller group of people.

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In general, voter turnout increases when people are voting in competitive districts or states. When one political party dominates a district or state, people tend not to turn out to vote. In addition, primary elections, off year elections, and local elections tend to have less voter turnout than general elections and elections for state or national office. Voter turnout can also be affected by voting laws and early voting (which has been shown to reduce voter turnout). The demographics of a district also affect voter turnout, as older, wealthier, and whiter districts tend to have higher turnout than less affluent or more diverse or younger districts.

Forms of direct democracy such as initiatives and referendums tend to increase voter turnout because many stakeholders in the election tend to appeal directly to voters and to encourage them to get to the polls. Therefore, these types of direct democracy should be encouraged.

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