The US Presidential race is making history – and its not just about Obama believe it or not! Across the US we’re seeing unprecedented turnouts at the polling stations, which buck the historic trends across Western democracy of declining turnout at the ballot box.
CNN have reported that the early voting figures suggest overall turnout across the US could surpass 64 percent attained in 1960’s Kennedy vs. Nixon election. In fact, experts estimate that a record 213 million voters are eligible to vote this year- voter registration drives by both parties, particularly the democrats, have played a significant role in boosting this figure. No matter which candidate they’re all voting for [though the Obama effect does seem to be boosting the turnout ;) ] this has to be good for reviving democracy.
Gallup estimates a 60% turnout – check out the graph below from OpenLeft to see what a strong trend that would actually be. (I’m hoping for something higher than this!):
But of course, unprecedented turnout equals unprecedented queues. Interesting to see how the system copes (or doesn’t) with significant numbers of people actually showing up to exercise their democratic right to vote… and that’s happening on an astonishing scale right now.
Whether in Long Island, Missouri, or Washington DC. people are turning up to be part of history – to play their own role in this grand occasion. They are standing in the winding queues, waiting there in good faith that their personal participation will count for something far bigger and more significant than any one individual’s action. That very fact is in itself a real change already being delivered by the candidates’ campaigns. Somehow, this contest has made voting suddenly seem attractive again.
Let’s see if Cameron or Brown can make me want to queue in the rain for six hours or so … hm, or maybe I’ll just do postal next year.