America Spends Billions on Elections But Ranks Near the Bottom for Voter Turnout

As part of our Vote Now series, VICE Impact will be featuring content and campaigns that address a broken electoral system in America, and how the nation can do better.

Nov 10 2017, 8:43pm

Compared to other developed countries, the U.S. has a pretty abysmal track record for voter turnout. According to Pew Research, a nonpartisan data organization, the U.S. ranks 28th for votes cast in the most recent national election. The top five countries are Belgium, Sweden, South Korea, Denmark and Australia.

One reason for high voter turnout in those top countries is that voter participation is compulsory. In Belgian non-voters can incur fines or face challenges finding employment in the public sector. In Australia, non-voters are penalized with fines. One method used in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries is automatic to voter registration for all citizens— an initiative that’s started to catch on in the U.S. state by state.

On the other hand, America leads the pack in spending money in elections relative to the size of its population. According to the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit, the U.S. spent $4 billion dollars in the 2012 general election.

In 2014, Brazil spent $2 billion on its general election and United Kingdom— a smaller island nation— only spent the equivalent of $50 million for its general election in 2010. The influence of big money in elections has left many Americans skeptical about the democratic process and whether or not the system is rigged for the wealthy and corporations.

If you have a strong opinion on how the government should be run, don't just talk about it— take action. Make sure you're registered to vote so that you can have your voice heard. Then show up on Election Day in local and federal races to make your vote count. VICE Impact has partnered with TurboVote to get people registered, sign up today to have an effect on tomorrow.