One would think that in a nation where so many citizens do not vote — 75 million eligible people in 2008 — legislators would spare no efforts to increase exercise of the franchise. Indeed, much of post-Civil War history has witnessed the toppling of formal barriers to voting: African-Americans, women and later 18-year-olds gained the suffrage; poll taxes and literacy tests were pronounced illegal. Over time, affirmative steps have also been taken to enhance the ballot’s use and significance through measures ranging from declaration of the “one person, one vote” principle to passage of the “Motor Voter” law. But ominously, in recent years the tide has turned.
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