In the United States, elections are an essential element that provides ordinary citizens with an opportunity to influence the development of their country. However, an issue arises when a few people participate in elections, which can happen because of various reasons. As for the US, it is a severe problem because numerous non-presidential elections do not gather more than half of the voting population. The given background has formed the basis of Cantoni’s article “A Precinct Too Far: Turnout and Voting Costs.” The main point of this article is to describe how voting costs result in low participation and how it is possible to increase a voting turnout.
Justifying the Point
To begin with, the author stipulates that the distance to the polling location affects participation. According to Cantoni, “a 1-standard deviation increase in distance to the polling location” decreases a voting turnout by up to five percent (12). Furthermore, the author has identified that when it comes to census block voter registration, some voters refuse to register because of higher voting costs (Cantoni 17). In this case, the scholar offers a useful way of solving the issue. It relates to redrawing precinct lines to make the polling place as close to voters as possible. Cantoni explains that reducing the distance by 0.035 miles can only increase a voting turnout by 0.4 percentage (17).
Strengths of the Argument
The argument above is worth considering because it implies a few significant advantages. On the one hand, the article relies on information from credible sources, including census data, voter information, and GIS maps (Cantoni 2). That is why the author has trustworthy input information to solve the issue under consideration. On the other hand, the scholar has used suitable formulas and equations to arrive at the conclusions and support his ideas. For example, it refers to placebo regressions, RD-like plots of residualized outcomes, and exploring non-linear treatment effects (Cantoni 14). This information results in the fact that the scholar has used sufficient resources to produce reliable outcomes.
Weaknesses of the Argument
At the same time, it is impossible to mention that the argument above is free from any deficiencies. Thus, the first limitation relates to the fact that the article does not address “the potential for higher turnout and lower turnout inequality” (Cantoni 18). Consequently, the author only considers a single aspect of the problem, without covering it comprehensively. However, the most significant weakness is represented by the fact that there is no zero-cost solution to the issue under consideration. As a result, if the government wants to achieve a higher turnout by reducing voting costs, it will be necessary to have sufficient financial resources.
Policymakers can obtain significant benefits from using the knowledge above. Once it has been proved that there is an effective solution of how to increase turnout, it is reasonable to invest in redrawing precinct lines. Even though this activity requires many resources, its positive outcomes will make the United States even a more democratic country. However, it would be possible to achieve even better results if additional research is performed. It refers to the fact that one should draw more attention to the point of how to minimize the turnout gap between the low and high-minority areas. Furthermore, it is also necessary to define whether other external factors reduce a voting turnout.
Cantoni, Enrico. “A Precinct Too Far: Turnout and Voting Costs.” American Economic Journal, pp. 1-30.