Can You Vote?
After the complications arising from the 2000 election the Help America Vote Act was passed in 2002. States in an attempt to follow the guidelines of this act have found themselves in a precarious position. The provisions have created the unintended consequences of tens of thousands of potential voters being purged from voting rolls in nine states, six of which are key battleground swing states. As a result, federal law has been violated in two ways: voters have been removed within ninety days of a federal election and social security data has been used as a first resort as opposed to a last resort as designated within the law. Political participation polemics have been ubiquitous in the field of sociology during the second half of the 20th century. Robert Putnam and his followers describe the concept of social capital, defined as networks and norms of trust, as a panacea for participation. If the structure of the law itself creates disenfranchisement, social capital alone will not work. The historical context and massive voter outreach efforts for this election have created the opportunity to galvanize the voting process by fostering social capital and trust in the United States political system. If democracy is loosely defined as contested elections in which citizens vote the effectiveness of these processes is imperative.
Edward T. Walker on Civic Engagement