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Gilens Recommends Voting Reform Strategies

An excerpt from Public Policy Professor Martin Gilens’ book “Democracy in America?: What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It” was featured on the Chicago Blog. In the book, Gilens and co-author Benjamin Page examine trends in voter turnout and recommend reforms to facilitate voting. Gilens outlines various policy recommendations to increase voter turnout, including universal, government-administered registration; making Election Day a holiday; more polling places and voter machines; and allowing same-day registration. However, he points out that reforms must also aim to decrease biases in participation. “When it comes to our central objective — making government policy more responsive to average citizens — the number of Americans participating in politics is actually less important than the representativeness of those who participate,” Gilens writes. “We want elections to be decided by an ‘unbiased sample’ of Americans, not by a sample that is biased toward the affluent or any other particular group.”