Here is George Will on why the Obama administration’s attempt to make voting easier (i.e., to remove various local impediments to voting) is not desirable:
In 1960, 62.8 percent of age-eligible citizens voted. In the 13 subsequent presidential elections, lower turnouts than this have coincided with the removal of impediments to voting (poll taxes, literacy tests, burdensome registration and residency requirements). Turnout has not increased as the electorate has become more educated and affluent and as government has become more involved in Americans’ lives. There are four obvious reasons for nonvoting.
One is contentment. Americans are voluble complainers but are mostly comfortable.
Second, the stakes of politics are agreeably low because constitutional rights and other essential elements of happiness are not menaced by elections. Those who think high voter turnout indicates civic health should note that in three German elections, 1932-33, turnout averaged more than 86 percent, reflecting the terrible stakes: The elections decided which mobs would rule the streets and who would inhabit concentration camps.
Third, the winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes in 48 states — an excellent idea, for many reasons — means that many state races are without suspense. (After their conventions, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney campaigned in just eight and 10 battleground states, respectively.)
Fourth, gerrymandered federal and state legislative districts reduce competitive races.
Even if you disregard the Godwinism (which you really shouldn’t, by the way), the idea that high voter turnout correlates with lack of civic health doesn’t square with the facts. Check out Sweden, or just about any other advanced democracy; their turnout is largely higher than ours. I know what you’re going to say: but Sweden is in Europe, and didn’t Hitler come from Europe?
via Balloon Juice.
See also Alex Pareene, on the Washington Post’s op-ed page. Here’s a taste:
When George Will isn’t being dishonest, he’s usually being wrong. He lies about climate change. He claims that anti-voter suppression efforts are actually about mandatory voting, something few liberals and no elected Democratic leaders support. George Will decided that college football is “liberal” because he doesn’t like football and he doesn’t like liberal things, so things he doesn’t like must be liberal. George Will said that if Obama won it would be because he was lucky enough to be black, and Americans didn’t want to look racist by voting against him. That was another entry in his long history of worrying that America was being too nice to black people. Will also predicted Romney would win 321 electoral votes and that Minnesota’s marriage amendment would swing the state Republican.
Read the whole thing.