An International Look At American Voting (Or Lack Thereof)

Nov 12, 2016

Despite the attention the presidential election has drawn, less than 60 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot.

Academics from Latin America living in Reno have a unique perspective on the issue of voting, as it is compulsory in many Latin American countries.  

Argentinian Fulbright Scholar Melisa Prior.
Credit Natalie Van Hoozer

Melisa Prior is a teacher at UNR visiting from Argentina, where those who don’t vote can be fined.

However, she does understand why some Americans aren’t interested in participating.

“Nosotros en Argentina tenemos más candidatos, entonces, por lo general, uno tiene más opciones para votar,” dice ella.

(“In Argentina we have more candidates, therefore, in general, people have more options when they vote,” she says.)

She also says America’s two party system makes it more difficult for residents to identify with a candidate who reflects their values.

UNR graduate student Mauricio Rojas Durand.
Credit Mauricio Rojas Durand

Others, like Mauricio Rojas Durand, a Peruvian graduate student in Reno, say that should not deter people.

“El no votar no contribuye a la política. En realidad es algo muchísimo más grande porque no votar es no contribuir al desarrollo de tu país,” dice él.

(“Not voting does not contribute to politics. In reality, it’s something a lot bigger because to not vote is to not contribute to the development of your country,” he says.)

In both Argentina and Peru, it is possible to submit a null ballot, where no candidate is selected.

This report was produced in partnership with Noticiero Móvil, a Spanish-English multimedia news outlet for Northern Nevada.