BREAKING THE INSTITUTIONAL BARRIER
The measures required to improve an individual's image of self- worth go to the very heart of our social system. A person's self- image is a product of education, job opportunities, health, nondiscrimination, and sometimes simple human kindness. The reforms that might help the psychologically damaged to become full partners in the democratic process included the entire agenda for alleviating the crisis of our cities. When it is said that urban survival is essential, hopefully survival is defined as something more than vegetating. The social cost of excluding masses of the urban poor from decent shelter, proper health services, satisfying work, and leisure is too enormous to ignore. One of the side consequences is political indifference, the trauma of despair. Beyond that, violence and revolution.
Meanwhile, it is imperative to focus on the institutional barriers that prevent increases in registration. The most obvious, of course, is the historic presumption in the United States that voting is a privilege to be earned by individual initiative rather than a right to be aggressively disseminated by government, itself. The national commitment to full participation, if it is indeed part of the prevailing value system, is not evident in the myriad of regulations confronting would-be voters in the thousands of jurisdictions now placing their own interpretations on the qualifications for the franchise.