Zoe Weil is a blogger for Psychology Today, and we share her blog posts here. Enjoy!
Approximately 65 percent of eligible Americans voted this month in what many considered the most consequential presidential election of our lifetime. This was the largest percentage in more than a century.
Although an improvement, this falls far short of the ideal. Too few people decide the fate of too many.
American leadership on the world stage, along with the effects of American policies on all species on Earth, make anything but large-scale participation by the American electorate a grave problem for our country and the planet.
Moreover, an uneducated electorate – that is, citizens not fully practiced in the investigative skills and critical thinking required before casting a vote – leads to elections decided largely on advertisements, manipulated feelings, misinformation and disinformation, and group allegiances, rather than careful research and fact-checking.
To be sure, there are many problems with the kind of democracy practiced in the United States, not just low voter turnout. For one, our democracy is not particularly democratic. In my tiny state of Maine, with 1.3 million people, we have the same representation in the U.S. Senate as California with almost 40 million people. Then there’s the electoral college, which, in all but two states (Maine and Nebraska) awards all its electoral votes to one candidate, even if the voters cast ballots for that candidate by only 50.1 percent. To be clear, I’m not offering a path to solving all the problems with our democracy.
I am, however, offering a solution that will galvanize the democratic process for generations to come and ensure that a vastly greater number of citizens cast informed ballots in elections.