America has a democracy problem

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Evan Minniti staff writer

At the age of 18, most people should cherish their newfound access to voting in what is supposed to be the most advanced democracy in the world. But in reality, America has a serious problem, one that can only be corrected by a new generation devoted to advancing social and economic justice.

One of the most fundamental aspects of the American identity is false. America is not a thriving democracy, but a very flawed one where millions of voters unwittingly disenfranchise themselves. In most democratic nations, adults are automatically registered to vote. In America, however, a citizen has to voluntarily register to vote. The Pew Charitable Trust says that more than 51 million eligible citizens aren’t registered to vote under the current system.

Voluntary registration is supposed to seem super democratic; society is not using coercion on anyone who doesn’t want to make a political decision they are unprepared for. However, this narrative is just not true. In fact, voluntary registration is one of the many ways (such as gerrymandering and the electoral college) that the billionaire class limits democracy.

There is a correlation between automatic registration found in other countries and higher turnout rates on election day. Nations like Denmark, South Korea, Australia and Belgium have automatic registration, and in every case more than 75 percent of their voting age population voted at their most recent elections. Only 55.7 percent of voting age Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election.

Democracy, like many other parts of the American Dream, has always been something of an idealized concept, one that doesn’t necessarily correspond with reality for the vast majority of people. It was only through centuries of struggles, rebellions and revolutions that ordinary people made democratic rights a reality. The same is true today.

If young people, including those at the Beverly Hills High School, want to change the world for the better, a fight is necessary. One way of doing that is to register to vote as soon as possible, or pre-register at the age of 16.

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