How healthy is our democracy?

Author:Wilson, Mary G.
 
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In recent years, General Election Day has offered Americans an opportunity to give the "Health of Our Democracy" its annual exam. In this issue of The National Voter, the LWVUS checks some vital signs of a healthy democracy--election administration, election financing and the status of civil liberties. I encourage you to use the League's positions as your guide when conducting your own annual "democracy exam" this fall--as you inform yourselves in preparation for the elections in your locale, when you go to the polls, and as you study the post-election results.

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Look for signs of good health and symptoms of illness: Have the candidates debated the real issues or has the public only heard 30-second sound bites? Who contributed the most money to which candidates? In races where public financing was available, did you see any difference in how the issues were addressed? Was your vote cancelled before you even voted because your district was gerrymandered to assure the incumbent would win? How many voters never got registered because volunteer voter registrars were thwarted by new restrictions imposed because of misguided notions of "voter fraud"? Who didn't show up to vote for fear that they didn't have the proper voter ID? When voters did go to the polls, were their votes counted? Or were their names not found on the statewide database through no fault of their own, and were they forced to cast a provisional ballot that was not counted?

These are just a few of the questions you might ask about the health of our...

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