Running head: the role of debates in voter education



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Running head: THE ROLE OF DEBATES IN VOTER EDUCATION

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The Role of Debates in Voter Education

Carly Griffith

Virginia Commonwealth University

Author Note

This paper was prepared for UNIV200, taught by Mary Lou Hall

Abstract

Presidential debates have been an important part of any election year, giving the voting public a chance to observe all potential presidential candidates as well as the final two candidates hoping to become our country’s next leader. Since the debates began in 1960, they have been seen as an accurate source of knowledge for the voting public. However, some sources see the debates as a source of entertainment rather than education. This paper compares data found across the years looking at voter education from the debates. This comparison shows that while the debates may have some showy elements to them, they have the power to educate people about the current presidential election.

The Role of Debates in Voter Education

During any presidential election year, the appearance of presidential debates, as well as primary debates, fill our television or computer screens with candidates and the issues they are most worried about. Debates have changed drastically since they began in 1960, incorporating more humor into them rather than content. However, the power of the debates to educate the public, whether it be about primary candidates, or issues our two presidential candidates are discussing, has not changed.

This paper looks at the early debates, the progression of debates and the debates of today. Over the past 56 years, the progression of both presidential debates as well as primaries have influenced how the voting public receives information. The debates have been found to help educate potential voters across the years, however they have little effect on voter turnout in the election.



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