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取り組み・プロジェクト紹介 詳細

更新日:2017年04月18日

【国際学部】リレー・エッセイ (1) Lillian Swain “This is what democracy looks like! Or is it?”

 国際学部では新たな試みとして、ほぼ1週間間隔のリレー形式(休暇期間を除く)で、全教員による短いエッセイをHPに掲載することにしました。テーマは、研究にかんすることもあれば、時事的なこと、あるいは近刊書や映画など、さまざまです。在校生(とくに1~2年生)のみなさんには、ゼミの選択の参考資料などとして、受験生その他の方々には、本学部の雰囲気の一端を感じる材料として、読んでいただければ幸いです。

 

 

This is what democracy looks like! Or is it?

Lillian Swain


Americans living abroad are able to vote by absentee ballot (不在者投 票), so last fall, I sent my vote by post for the US presidential election.


According to the United States Elections Project, an all-time record number of people voted along with me, breaking the previous record of the number of Americans who voted in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected. Still, that means only 60 percent of the people who could vote actually voted, and Donald Trump became president by receiving the votes of only around 30 percent of the people.


Unfortunately, this was not unusual. The number of people who come out to vote in US elections is low; for the last 30 years, the turnout has stayed between 50 and 60 percent. The US ranks 31st among the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to the Pew Research Center. Meanwhile, Belgium had an 87.2 percent turnout rate in a recent (2014) election.


How about Japan? Voter turnout in the July 10th, 2016 Upper House election was 54.70 percent, the fourth-lowest on record. That was the first time that 18- and 19-year-olds could vote. According to the final tally, 51.17 percent of 18-year-olds and 39.66 percent of 19-year-olds voted in the election. These rates were lower than the total average of 54.70 percent, but higher than the rate of voters in their twenties, which was 33.37 percent.


Why did 18-year-olds vote more than 19-year-olds? Various reasons have been suggested, but one is that most 18-year-olds were high school students at the time, and participated in voter education programs at school. If that is true, then it seems that high schools had a positive effect on voting rates. We in the university need to try harder to encourage voting by talking about issues at stake in elections, and helping each other understand the critical importance of using our voices, and our votes.