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Give 'Jaded Electorate' a Boost

June, 2004

The Oregonian
Give 'Jaded Electorate' a Boost
Commentary by CVD Chair John Anderson
June 19, 2004

As a member of the Citizens' Debate Commission, I applaud your editorial in favor of our commission running this year's presidential debates (June 14).  We need public interest formats and candidate inclusion rules that better inform and inspire citizens.

But better debates are just a start for addressing the problem of a jaded
electorate. This year's high-stakes contest for the White House may cause an uptick in voter turnout -- at least in the 18 battleground states -- but long-term trends are deeply disturbing.

The Panetta Institute for Public Policy this month released a study showing that only 35 percent of college students believe that voting in
presidential elections is a way to bring about meaningful change -- down
sharply from just three years ago.

Our political leaders barely address this political depression. We need to
open up choices in general elections with instant runoff voting, increase
fairness in our campaign finance system, expand the electorate through
universal voter registration, represent more voters with methods of full
representation and ensure federal protection of the right to vote through a
constitutional amendment.

In short, please keep after how we can make our democracy work.

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