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Every Election Day, whether it involves a municipal primary or a national general election with the U.S. Presidency or Congressional control at stake, I experience a contrast of emotions. On the one hand, I am enormously grateful to be part of a unique democratic process that facilitates debate and a peaceful transition of power. On the other, I am saddened to think of family I have trapped in the “Democratic” People’s Republic of Korea, where a key component of survival is voting “correctly.” In light of this forced choice that my North Korean family and their fellow citizens face, I am troubled when I hear of low voter turnouts in American elections. According to The New York Times, the 2013 general election for New York City Mayor saw a record low turnout of 24 percent of registered voters.

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