Voter participation in the United States is only 50% of the population. Because of this, Dambisa Moyo, a top economist and author of “Edge of Chaos, says that voters who are more engaged should have a larger vote. Could this incite voters to become more engaged and thus save democracy in the US?
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Following is a transcript of the video:
Dambisa Moyo: The fact that the OECD report claims that this generation of Americans for the first time in the history of the United States will be less educated than the preceding generation means that we do need to do something quite aggressive I believe in order to get more voters to the ballot polls.
Moyo: The idea of weighted voting is essentially providing a reward to voters who are more engaged. One of the risks of this proposal is that people will interpret it very superficially as rewarding, or giving people who put more education or more wealth, a bigger weight in the voting process and that is absolutely incorrect. The most important thing I believe for democracy to function is two things.
One is to make sure that as many people as possible are voting, and so in that context, one of the concerns is low-voter participation rates. In the United States, they are now around 50%. For low-income households, they are around 30%. But the second thing that’s critically important is that voters have an understanding of the political process. One of the big issues that has been revealed is that we’re seeing a lot of disaffection and people tend to vote for candidates based on things as basic as what color pantsuit they’re wearing. And that I think really undermines the political process.
Discussing what sorts of factors would help us understand who should be voting and how voters should be voting, I believe that having a civics program where people really understand how the government functions and who they’re voting for and what those people stand for. At the very bare minimum, a civics test, and I draw really on my experience as an immigrant, would really tap into the historical context of how exactly the United States political system was established, but more specifically, it will talk about how it’s structured today.
For example, just a basic understanding of what the different arms of government are and how the political process works from the role of superdelegate and delegate, but it’s also about how primaries work and how the whole process of the caucusing and the electoral college works in a democratic system. And I think that, at a very bare minimum, would help voters understand what the role of their vote is and how that action would impact, not just on the election process, but also long-term economic policy.
Because I’m an eternal optimist, and because we have a history where people of color were not allowed to vote, women were not allowed to vote, I imagine that there were times when there was pause and people thought, well we really can’t have a system where women voted or where minorities voted, but here we are today in a world where it is possible. And so on that basis, I don’t see why we shouldn’t be optimistic about reforms and innovation to the democratic process that can make it stronger and perform better.
We want to make sure that people do have access to information about the candidates that they’re fielding but also make sure that they have understanding about the basic political and policy issues that are up for debate.