Voter suppression and voter disengagement

This has been the longest and most tense election since I cast my first vote for president in 1980. Because of the events in the election of 2000, the minds of many more people have turned to systematic attempts to understand the process of voting itself and how laws and the behavior of others make it easier (or harder) for people to get out and do what everyone claims to want them to do–to vote.

This examination of the underlying processes and laws is tremendously important; it is through this analysis that we know more about both malicious and inadvertent acts of voter suppression.

While our country works over the next years to ensure the competent, fair and honest administration of elections, we should also consider all the events that occur the rest of the year to cause people to turn away from political engagement and decide it’s easier to be apathetic and disinterested than to try to speak up, be heard and make a difference.

Whether or not people can get access to the information they need to understand how their federal and local governments work is a factor in whether people become and stay engaged with politics, or give up and turn their energies elsewhere. How big a factor? I don’t know, but as we work to create an environment where people can vote, we also need to work to create a system where more people are engaged enough to want to vote.

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