As Americans, we have been through two of the toughest elections in recent memory. After 2016 and 2018, the country sometimes feels more dangerously divided than at any time in the last 50 years. The purpose of this class is to explore the American election system itself and to consider its strengths and its weaknesses. We will look at our election system from a historical perspective, exploring what our forefathers envisioned and how that vision has changed over time. We will also track the controversies and court decisions that will impact our elections in the short term and the long term. The United States' electoral system is complex, decentralized and administratively driven by the states and their counties, with diverse approaches to voter registration, ID requirements, and the delivery of voter services. Polarized content on broadcast, print, and social media has reopened long-buried wounds of divisiveness on every front. Foreign bots and trolls leave us feeling confused as to how to sort out facts from fiction. With our unique Electoral College system for the election of the President, some question whether we abide by the one voter/one vote principle and whether it is time to abandon it. The resurgence of voter suppression tactics, gerrymandering, and out-of-control campaign financing may have some of us questioning our confidence in America's electoral process. The obstacles seem insurmountable, but this class will explore and discuss the good news as well as the bad. Our system is flawed, but it is also strong. In the end, we will refortify our faith that as voters, we can make a difference.
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