BY JENNIFER OBI
With a population of about 320 million people in the United States, over 231 million were eligible to vote in the just concluded US presidential elections, but only 130 million Americans (including legal immigrants – Hispanics and African Americans actually voted. The question then is, why did over 200 million Americans refuse to vote?
Not all 320 million US citizens are eligible to vote. Some were probably too young, too old or too sick to go out and vote. Some rural and illiterate Americans are still living extremely close to nature to care about who is running for what electoral position. They are too far removed from government activities and the positive effects of good governance.
Then of course there are thousands of US military troops that are fighting wars and keeping peace on many embattled frontiers across the globe, plus the health, religious, scientific, holiday tourists and adventurers who just are elsewhere in the world while the US elections were conducted, including early voting in some states.
America has always recorded a low turnout at elections and this has raised questions about the perceived beauty of democracy at the headquarters of the free world – America’s global nickname.
During the 2012 US presidential elections, 241 million voters were eligible, but only 130.2 million people voted; a turnout estimated to be 58.6% – which dwindled in the 2016 US presidential elections.
According to the Elections Project of the United States, as of Saturday, 12 November, 2016, 231,556,622 Americans were eligible to vote but only 133,983,600 cast their votes, which is 57.9%. The Pew Research Center ranked the US 31st out of 35 countries for voters turnout.
Reasons why America had a low turnout can be attributed to the difficulty in voters registration. Pew Research shows that tens of millions of voters are not registered simply because some are not willing to leave their homes to register until Election Day, which is usually late.
According to Brennan Center for Justice, this year, 14 states in the US installed restrictive voting laws, including limitations on voter registration, photo ID mandates and narrower time periods for early voting.
Sometimes too, Americans do not see the need to vote due to the inconveniences that come with it. They would rather busy themselves with other things probably with the mindset that their votes would not count. Guess what? They goofed this time as 70-year-old President-elect Donald Trumped trumped all pundits and swept the polls with a surprise win over 69-year-old Hillary Clinton. Perhaps their votes would have counted. Only perhaps now.
The two-party system of the United States is equally a limiting factor as not all electorates approve of Trump and Clinton. It, then goes to say that if the candidate of your choice is not contesting, there would be little or no interest to participate in the process.
The United States need to improve on voters registration and turnout. If the world must continue to see the US as the champion of democracy, any further shrinking of voter numbers must be stopped.
Although a big upset and election surprise, “Trump’s victory is a great lesson for Nigeria” says Dr. Kunle Hamilton, President, Shaddaiville Ministries. Speaking to Sunday Telegraph newspaper in Lagos, Nigeria he said Donald Trump’s electoral victory shows that it is only when institutions and infrastructure are designed and strengthened beyond individual sentiments that electoral outcomes can truly reflect the people’s will.
CHAOS TRAILS TEAM TRUMP BEFORE RESUMING OFFICE
President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is plagued by dismissals and infighting. The selection of key cabinet roles have shown to be a shaky one as Trump struggles to pick his cabinet. A major shake up occurred when Trump announced VP-elect Mike Pence as Head of his transition team thus replacing former Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie. Media reports say that Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, played a key role in this change.
Christie was New Jersey Attorney General when Kushner’s father was tried and jailed for tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and witness tampering in 2004. Criticisms have also trailed the selection of Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the White House. Bannon was one-time head of the provocative Brietbart website seen by critics as a supporter of white supremacists. Bannon supports racist views.
However, Trump took to Twitter to reaffirm that the process of his cabinet selection is a very organized one. “Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions.” He tweeted. “I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!”
Jason Miller, a transition communications adviser told reporters that Trump and Pence would be reviewing a number of names for cabinet positions including non-traditional names. “People will be excited when they see the type of leaders the president-elect brings into this administration,” Miller said.