The U.S. presidential election is tomorrow and though many Americans will exercise their democratic right to vote, voter turnout rates may remain lower than in other parts of the world with only 50% of citizens of some states going to the polls. Today we find inspiration from the people of Iraq where voter turnouts are high and voting is a celebratory event where families come together.
In the 2005 general election 75% of Iraqis voted, and in the 2009 regional elections in the Kurdish region of Iraq, the Independent High Electoral Commission estimated a 78.5% turnout. Even though turnout dropped to only 60% in 2010, it was still on par with the total U.S. voter turnout in 2008. The 2008 U.S. election had been hailed as a record turnout, while this was Iraq’s second election ever after 7 years of war. A vital part of democracy is not taking the power and responsibility to vote for granted.
At EPIC we find inspiration from the people of Iraq. If you are in the United States today we hope you are inspired to vote. In the words of former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting”.
Remember the joy is participating in your democracy’s future, and go vote!
You can head over to our Facebook page to see more pictures from EPIC Director Erik Gustafson’s trip to the Kurdish region of Iraq to help monitor the 2009 regional elections.
Daniel Young is a Fall 2012 Intern at EPIC and a graduate student at the John C. Whitehead School of International Relations at Seton Hall focusing on democratization and the Middle East.