How the Public Library Promotes Voter Enfranchisement
Libraries play a vital role in encouraging civic engagement and voter participation.
With voting season fast approaching, supporting organizations promoting voter enfranchisement is more important than ever. Though voter turnout trends on the low side in the States, it’s been on the rise in recent years. And with more and more people showing up on Election Day, the need for voter-friendly facilities has never been greater. One such facility, as it happens, is the public library, so let’s take a closer look at a few ways it supports voter enfranchisement.
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Provides a Polling Station
One of the greatest issues voters face, especially in low-income areas, is the lack of polling stations come Election Day. If there are only a few polling places in a given area and everyone rushes to them after they get off work, there are going to be a fair number of people who don’t get to vote before the polling station closes. Libraries, however, help to remedy this problem, with many of them setting up polling stations of their own to increase accessibility to voters and, in turn, increase voter turnout.
Teaches Critical Thinking and Media Literacy
Libraries are designed to be places where asking questions and learning are freely promoted. In an era of reactionary news media, conspiracy theories, and online misinformation, having a place where anyone can access vetted, factual information on upcoming elections is absolutely essential to ensure the integrity of our democracy. Simply by being a place that encourages people to ask questions and seek answers, libraries can help teach critical thinking skills, as well as media literacy techniques like verifying information with multiple sources.
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Promotes the Exchange of Ideas
With many electoral candidates appealing to one extreme or the other, it’s becoming alarmingly easy for otherwise levelheaded voters to become trapped in a political echo chamber of sorts, leading to increased divisiveness and polarization with each election cycle. However, as libraries are meant to be areas for the community to gather, they also facilitate the healthy and safe exchange of ideas and opinions. By gaining a better view of what the other side is thinking through a constructive conversation in a safe space, voters will develop a more nuanced understanding of current issues, allowing them to make a more informed decision come Election Day.
Of course, public libraries aim to provide countless other services as well, encouraging the community’s social health even after Election Day has long passed. If you’d like to learn more about what libraries do and how you can best support them, visit us at EveryLibrary today!
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