What’s in a Vote?

On Tuesday, November 3, Americans will cast their votes for president for the fifty-ninth time in our nation’s history. Republican efforts at voter suppression have long undermined the notion of free and fair elections, but Donald Trump has diminished the integrity of our electoral system even more profoundly—by sabotaging the Postal Service, disregarding the Hatch Act, and leveling false charges of voter fraud, while doing nothing to prevent interference by foreign governments. These threats demand urgent action on the part of political leaders, but they also raise difficult questions about what it means to be a citizen in a democracy, particularly one that is failing to live up to its ideals. Do we have a moral obligation to vote even if the electoral system is corrupt or unfair? Who should be allowed to vote, and by what methods? What does it mean for a government to be representative?