Research and Reports

Why Don't Americans Vote?

We call ourselves a Democracy – a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. However, the sad truth is that America has very low rates of participation in our “democracy.” 

Only 55.7% of Americans voted in the last election (around 27% each for President Trump and Secretary Clinton). This is not normal for advanced democracies. We looked into the many barriers that Americans face when heading to the polls.

First, there are significant portions of our population who are disenfranchised. 

Felons- 6.1 million Americans cannot vote because of felony disenfranchisement. 

People without ID– 21 million Americans do not have government-issued ID and many of them cannot vote in 34 states that require it. In addition, these ID laws disproportionately disenfranchise minority populations.

American Citizens in Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the North Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands and D.C. –4.4 million Americans in these American territories and the district are represented by one “delegate” each in the House of Representatives (who can only vote on procedural matters) and only D.C. can vote for president. 

Unaffiliated Primary Voters– 46% of Americans are independents. Yet, many voters are barred from participating in primary contents due to their party affiliation or lack-thereof.  

Secondly, there are significant barriers to voting that make voting more difficult.

Separate Registration and Voting– In many states, Americans must register a significant amount of time before election day. These laws not only vary by state, they also vary in how you can register. 

Tuesday Voting– Unlike many other democracies who hold election days on a Sunday or a holiday, the United States has its elections on a workday: Tuesday. 

Early Voting and No-Excuse Absentee Voting is Not Universal– Early voting and no-excuse absentee voting creates more flexibility for Americans who may not be able to make it to the polls in the 8 to 12-hour window on a Tuesday. Almost 64 million Americans do not have those options.  

Some Votes Count More– Due to the electoral college in presidential elections, votes in smaller rural states tend to count more towards the final result than others.  

If we want to continue calling ourselves a democracy. The United States needs laws that reflect a democracy.

Guaranteed Jobs Through A Public Service Employment Program

Amid a recent upsurge in support for a national job guarantee program, L. Randall Wray, Stephanie A. Kelton, Pavlina R. Tcherneva, Scott Fullwiler, and Flavia Dantas outline a new proposal for a federally funded program with decentralized administration. Their Public Service Employment (PSE) program would offer a job, paying a uniform living wage with a basic benefits package—to all who are ready and willing to work. In advance of an upcoming report detailing the economic impact of the PSE, this policy note presents an overview of the goals and structure of the program in the context of current labor market trends and the prospects of poverty reduction.

Declaration of the Ethics in Action Meeting on Education

In October of 2017 the Ethics in Action Conference at the Vatican released this "Declaration of the Ethics in Action Meeting on Education."

It summarizes the thoughts and findings of the conference as well as specific commitments from the participants on SDG 4 - education. It states that "Education is both a fundamental need and right of all children" and therefore, it is the duty and responsibility of those with means and ability to further the education of all children, especially those at the bottom of the income distribution. 

The declaration states the amount of spending and support that would be required to further this goal. "To achieve quality education for all children, the incremental international funds needed are very modest, roughly $40 billion per year, or 0.1% of the national income of the high-income countries. Yet even such modest flows can do much to ensure a more peaceful, harmonious and productive world."

Education, however, does not happen in a vacuum. Therefore, the declaration calls on parents, teachers, countries, corporations, and universities to all commit to this endeavor. 

Ultimately, it argues that "We need an educational system that promotes a fair, inclusive and sustainable world—without slavery and exclusion, where we take care of our common home, and where all have access to land, housing, work, education, and the foundations of a dignified life."

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