October 27th, 2008
01:14 PM ET

Know the rules, watch out for tricks

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/23/art.vert.votingbooth.jpg width=292 height=320]Hill Harper

Participatory democracy only works if we participate. That means knowing the rules and watching out for tricks.

Since January, excitement has been building around this historic presidential campaign. But now our nation faces a crucial test as Election Day approaches—some states now have strict identification requirements for voters, a move that could stymie the anticipated growth in political participation.

Whatever the motive for the tougher voter requirements, public officials, civic leaders, activists and media outlets must work to ensure that voters in their states understand the rules about what constitutes proper identification at the polls. It would be a serious blow to our democracy if droves of voters, perhaps excited for the first time about their participation and choices, are turned away at the polls. Given the low voter turnout rates we have witnessed over the past 30 years, our democracy cannot afford to disillusion people participating for the first time.

And given the current economic crisis, it is more important than ever that the American people participate in the voting process and feel vested in selecting the path for the nation's future. This is especially true for those who believe that change is needed in Washington and that our current public officials and representatives have not necessarily acted in the best interest of our families, our communities or our future.


Editor's Note: Hill Harper currently stars in the hit television drama CSI: N.Y. and is the best-selling author of "Letters To a Young Brother and Letters To a Young Sister."

Filed under: Raw Politics • Voting • Voting issues
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