America is the world’s oldest democracy, founded on the radical idea that governments “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” But around 40 percent of American voters today choose not to give that consent. That turnout rate lags behind most other developed democracies. A majority of Americans now say their government needs a fundamental redesign.
American democracy is unique in a lot of ways. You won’t find the “right to vote” in our Constitution. And the rules around voting are written by partisan politicians, who sometimes benefit from making voting harder. The US lets unlimited money flood our elections, which are the most expensive in the world. And at different times in recent years, the House, the Senate, and the presidency have been controlled by a party that most people voted against — the result of compromises made almost 250 years ago, before US political parties existed.
The Vox/Netflix series Whose Vote Counts looks at what impact all this has on the power of your vote, as well as some of the best ideas out there to make our government represent us better. Votes aren’t created equal in America. But they are, in the words of the late civil rights leader John Lewis, who helped expand the right to vote, “the most powerful nonviolent tool we have to make change in a democratic society.” Make your plan to vote at When We All Vote.