March 16, 2021
The United States has a substantial voter turnout problem. Approximately 79.4 million Americans who were eligible to vote last year did not cast ballots. And in 2018, about 120 million voting-eligible Americans did not participate in the midterm election, while about 100 million voting-eligible people did not vote in 2016. In fact, when compared with other democracies, the United States has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the Western world.Many factors contribute to low voter turnout in the United States. Voter suppression, for example, remains a significant problem nationwide, preventing countless Americans—particularly Black Americans and other Americans of color—from making their voices heard each cycle. Other factors affecting turnout include confusion over complicated voter registration and voting rules and disillusionment over the political process.Although the executive branch does not have a direct hand in overseeing voting processes, the Biden-Harris administration can be influential in tackling America's voter turnout problem. Through its recently signed executive order on promoting access to voting, the administration has already demonstrated its commitment to protecting American's right to the ballot box. But it can do more. The administration should convene a new National Task Force on Civic Engagement and Voter Participation, championing and building off the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—two transformative pieces of legislation that include pro-voter reforms.The task force's findings would provide voting advocates and state and local leaders with valuable insights and tools to champion additional policies that would improve voter participation.