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Excited About the Big Voter Turnout in the 2018 Midterms? Don't Be

Excited About the Big Voter Turnout in the 2018 Midterms? Don't Be

Amy Eskind

Our democracy just won the trophy for Most Improved: The 49.4% voter turnout this month was higher than any midterm election in a century. But once we finish patting ourselves on the back, we need to look at the numbers again to take stock of what’s missing: half of the eligible voters in the United States.

We’re never going to see 100% voter turnout. But when half of the electorate is abstaining, we install elected officials who don’t necessarily represent the majority opinion. We can’t “vote the bums out” if we don’t vote.

I don’t think the US will ever have a high turnout unless voting is moved to weekends. What other country votes on Tuesdays? Some of the lack of turnout can be blamed on an inadequate number of voting machines being available and therefore extremely long lines. Probably most of it is due to cynicism about politics. Many people who post here believe both parities are controlled by a corporate elite. So why vote if you can’t change anything? To vote there has be some belief that candidates actually represent the voters and not some figures behind the scene. And finally there are many people who are just simply completely detached from politics and may not even give a thought to voting.

The 1200-lb. donkeyphant in the room is that most people are just turned off to the whole sad spectacle—all that sound and fury, and nothing changes for the better.

Here’s a wacky idea: how about proportional representation, ranked-choice voting and multiple political parties? Of course the D/R duopoly will fight it harder than they’ve ever fought each other, but as we’re told, nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.


Turnout was a function of one of the highest-octane fear campaigns in modern American political history. It took the cooperation of literally every cranny of power to terrify voters into thinking that “this is the big one!”–a claim made every two years and thus usually tuned out by the majority of eligible voters smart enough to know a scam when they see one.

It’ll be hard to top that campaign. I mean, HItler versus Anyone But Hitler. That’s the gold standard of fear-mongering.

Just a quick correction: the argument that larger participation somehow equals better representation might be the most asinine argument I’ve ever heard. How on earth does that mechanic work? Besides, with LOTE dominating voting rationales now, no one votes for what they want. They vote against what they fear. And that’s why we don’t get any representation.


Nice nutshell phrase encapsulating some true, impactful reforms.

More of us need to talk with our friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers about real voting reform. And about why “the powers that be” strongly prefer the current system, intentionally awful and dispiriting.

We need a growing movement for comprehensive voting reform. (Among other things, like comprehensive wealth reform…)


From the abstract of Martin Gillens’ and Benjamin Page’s landmark 2014 study:

“Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”


Not to mention that the 2018 election gave the GOP an even tighter control of the Senate so they (along with Chuck Schumer helping McConnell with fast tracking) will continue stacking the courts.


Where the Senate is concerned, the r-party has a built-in structural advantage, namely, 28-30 solidly red states whose total population will soon fall below the population of 14 solidly blue states. Look to see the Rs control the Senate for decades with a shrinking minority of the population. Schumer, of course, is a different problem…

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Reaching 80% voter turnout in a political system that runs on lesser of two evil voting has about the same odds of happening as me winning the lottery. It’s no coincidence that countries with more representative political systems have a higher voter turnout. As long as two corrupt parties that serve the same monied interests have a stranglehold on our political system, 2018 may be as good as it gets for midterm, all the more so when it changes nothing to the status quo.


Oregon voting %s were down because the voter pool was enlarged by automatically registering folks at the DMV. 10% of those still opted out of partaking in this user-frendly public service. So, 75-80% voter participation in Oregon elections would seem achievable and admirable.
Linked to the local state ballot initiatives, which was how The Death With Dignity Act, $15 Minimum Wage & Marijuana Legalization laws passed, is also a jumpstarter for increased turnout.

Should only the majority (usually meaning, middle class) opinion matter? Regardless, most voting choices come down to economic issues. The Democrats’ problem: The Dem voting base had long consisted of the poor and middle class, for the common good. Democrats split this base wide apart in the 1990s, and the Obama years confirmed that this split is permanent. In 2016, roughly half of all registered voters (both parties) rejected BOTH Clinton and Trump, for some of the same reasons. They either voted third party or withheld their votes,concluding that neither one was the “lesser evil.” In the end, Clinton did get more votes, but Trump got the most electoral votes, and the utterly confused blamed Russia. So – what does all of this tell us?


This is what I think.

Elections are schemes to keep two industries going strong: the postal system and the recycling system. The idea is to force me and other citizens to do our civic duty and take election propaganda garbage from our mailboxes and put them in the recycle bin.

Now this might actually have an up side if the effing garbage made by cutting down forests really had pertinent information on it. But I tell, you I got hundreds of these things this last cycle and they all say the same thing:

Family values
Good jobs
Work with the other side
blah blah blah

You can’t tell anything about the difference between the two (or more than two sometimes) candidates from these ruinations of our forest forcing me to cart them from my mail box to my recycle bin.

Then there are the robo phone calls. Three or four times a day they come in. More and more insipid nonsense. Once in a while a real human is on the other end of the line, but they don’t really know beans about anything, which was constantly proven when I’d asked them real questions.

Worse of all is when someone actually comes to my door. I might be in the middle of cooking, but they want to talk to me about their candidate or issue and again if you challenge them they don’t really understand what is really going on. Meanwhile the pot is burning and I have to finally be rude to get them to shut up.

All this money is spent on campaigns and I just described where a lot of the money goes. More goes to TV ads- which are even more insipid.

Am I just different than the regular person? Do they like having strangers knock on their doors or getting glossy garbage stuffing their mailbox or computers calling them over and over? Why do political junkies think that it is making phone calls and knocking on doors that is how you sell candidates?

Here’s the truth. I’m less likely to vote for someone if they send me glossy garbage in the mail. I’m less likely to vote for someone if they have a computer constantly calling me. I’m less likely to vote for someone if they have a flunky interrupt me doing important things in my house.

Don’t get me started on what I think of TV ads.

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Not one word in the article or comments about the 800 lb. gorilla in the voting room. Vote theft. Doesn’t matter if it’s from a machine or the laws of man, people hate it. I know 5 people myself who refuse to vote, because in their opinion the voting system is rigged, and why should they waste their time when it might not count, and to some degree I agree with them.
We must throw all electronic voting machines in the trash, reinstate all of the Voting Rights Act, and put laws on the books that make vote tampering a major crime with severe penalties. Accomplishing these items would go a long way towards installing confidence in our system, and I believe would dramatically increase voter turnout.

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Here in Seattle, all voting is done by mail. No long lines, no machines breaking down, no having to find out where to go or get a ride.

It is a paper ballot and it can be recounted easily. Machine voting is only as good as the people overseeing the process!

Seems to me that prominent politicos just don’t want us to vote and therefore, make it difficult or impossible!

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I don’t know if you’d had the same experience as me, but when I talk to people about this very thing, it can make them really angry.

I’m thinking that this is a topic that can be used to possibly change things. Talking in terms of fairness, people seem to get it really quickly.

A huge problem is alienation. In the 2016 American Values Survey, “More than six in ten (61%) Americans [said] neither political party represents their views anymore.”

What would really increase voting would be candidates who actually represented the interests of the American people and not those of the 1%.

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Few of us feel represented by either party.

We should give the population the option of a Mulligan: You should be able to vote “None of the above.” This should not cast a non-vote, but an active vote against each candidate. No one with more No votes than Yes votes should be able to take office, even if incumbent.

We should be able to vote both bums out at once.

In a case wherein no one were to take office, a special election with exclusively write-in candidates could be held within days or weeks–according to whatever might be agreed in advance, but before very long.

Among other things, this would bring an element of risk into buying the services of two unpopular candidates, one from each major party. It would considerably reduce the value of allowing an unpopular candidate to steal a nomination or to support a patsy candidate for the opposition, since the odds of a lot of No votes and an otherwise voided election would become high.

Best of all, it would reduce the efficacy of voting for or running a “least worst” unpopular candidate.

It might even create incentive to do things that might satisfy a citizenry–though, you know, that sort of thing has to be highly hypothetical.


The article stated, “Voting became cool, but still two-thirds of those 18 to 29 didn’t heed the call.” Perhaps neither coolness or hipness or even grooveyness was the point.

When I was of that age range I made a rational judgement not to vote. Why? Because I believed it was an important decision and I wanted it to be done right if it were to be done at all. Please, please tell me how is that not the most responsible course of action? The first presidential election for which I was of voting age was Bush v. Dukakis, 1988. In contrast to most of the older generation in my family, I was partial to Bush. What I found appealing was his eloquence, rational demeanor, prudence, and his desire to be known as the “education president”. But I knew my limitations, and I didn’t vote at all. During his administration I became aware on my own that perhaps instead of “education” he meant something more like “re-education” in the old soviet sense of the word, and, among other things, that it is a very bad idea to have the former head of the CIA in the office of president. I have never seen the rationale or appeal of wanting even greater numbers of ignorant people to vote than already evidently do. Why the constant and loud lamentation over low turnout? The lament is better saved for the ignorance of the voters and the desire for that ignorance by the government and media, the difficulty of voting (done correctly, it is work, mail-in or not) the voting choice nearly always being between lesser of two evils, and the difficulty of solving all the problems noted elsewhere in these comments.

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I know what you mean. I saved a stack of glossy cardstock, most too large to fit in my mailbox unbent, and it was heavy as a thick phonebook (a what?) as heavy as a mid size television by the time of the election. About half was from the incumbent city council member.

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Addressing the unfairness would require a major overhaul of the Constitution. Your party will have a “senate problem” for the rest of my life.