In the United States of America, we should all have a voice in the decisions that effect us. Somehow this statement is surprisingly untrue regarding presidential elections. The Founding Fathers were very clear regarding the Electoral College and the final vote for president, but the nomination process leading to the final vote was left untouched, constitutionally speaking. Presidential primaries are a relatively new occurrence in the 241-year history of the United States, having begun only in the early 20th Century. Currently, primaries stretch across a 4-5-month period beginning in January and extending into June during the election year with lackluster turnout, save Super Tuesday, (a primary election day held with numerous states participating). This work will explore the creation of a Nationwide Concurrent Presidential Primary as a solution for all registered United States voters based on the popularity of Super Tuesday addressing the hypothesis of “same day voting increases voter turnout.”
The one thing all political candidates running for the Presidency of the United States can is agree on is that they want votes. To receive votes, there must be voter turnout. While the Founding Fathers were very clear in Article II of the Constitution. which calls for the Electoral College to gather and cast votes for the president, they left the nominating process untouched (Harrison et al, 2015, p. 67). The votes of the Electors are the actual concluding step in the long election process that begins much earlier at the state and territory level with delegate selection. Delegates are individuals selected by political parties for the express purpose of attending the National Conventions of their respective party and are now representative of “those votes that the presidential candidates all want.” For the first 140 years of the nation’s existence however delegates were selected from the political elite rather than a democratic vote of the people (Cowan, 2016, p. 2). The selection process changed in 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt called for the vote of the people. According to Cowan (2017) Roosevelt’s proclamation to “let the people rule” created 13 presidential primaries in the year 1912 of which Roosevelt handily won 9 (p. 2). However, when the presidential nominating convention finalized the nominating process Roosevelt was not selected as the republican nominee, rather Taft was nominated by his “party bosses, federal office holders and political cronies” (Cowan, 2017, p. 2). Woodrow Wilson, who would become president in 1912 was the first President of the United States (POTUS) to call upon congress for a bill for a Nationwide Primary, albeit unsuccessfully (Cowan, 2017, p. 3). Since then, a Nationwide Primary has been proposed many times, each time unsuccessfully. Currently, states and territories and political parties themselves run successful primaries and caucuses while governing all aspects of them and even “determine the timing of primary elections” (Harrison, et al, p. 278). Yet, voter turnout in primaries continues to pale in comparison to voter turnout in the general election, which is held upon a single voting day. Chart 1 displays voter participant totals in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 primaries versus general election totals of the same year.
Still a candidate must get voters to the primaries in order to receive the nomination of their respective parties and compete in the general election. The key is turnout. Does same day voting increase voter turnout?
More to come