Election Day combines eleven stories — shot simultaneously on November 2, 2004, from dawn until long past midnight — into one film that documents the street-level experience of voters in today’s America. Along the way, filmmaker Katy Chevigny discovers that more and more Americans are bringing their passion for democracy to the poll. But Election Day also finds that American elections run on a surprisingly antiquated system, which often works as much to frustrate voter participation as to encourage it, and which harbors wide disparities in access between rich and poor neighborhoods.

The 2004 elections took place in the long shadow of 2000’s bitterly contested presidential vote. The upcoming 2008 presidential elections will be another strenuous test on America’s election system. Will the system hold up? Or will “hanging chads” and disputes be part of the conversation around the election results once again?

Katy ChevignyFilmmaker Katy Chevigny says that the American election system can often fall short and fail its voters. She says that “improving our election system is not going to happen on its own; people would need to get involved to reform the system so that everyone gets an opportunity for their vote to be counted.”

Do you think the American election system needs to be reformed?
Leon BattsIn New York City, ex-felon Leon Batts has just regained the right to vote. He sees his vote as one representing all ex-convicts denied the right to vote, despite having served their time. But voting turns out to be harder than anticipated for Leon. States differ on whether ex-felons can vote. Do you think that ex-felons should be granted the right to vote across the country?

Renee ParadisIn POV’s roundtable discussion, Changing the System, we asked experts: What’s the one thing you would do to improve the accuracy, access to and efficiency of the election system in America? Renée Paradis of the Brennan Center suggests a system of universal registration. What’s the one thing you would suggest to improve the American election system?

Election Day skips over the partisanship to depict portraits of real people who make American democracy work. Along the way, it raises unsettling questions about the American election process. Have you ever run into problems when you were trying to vote? What do you think about America’s election system?
Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments.

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Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.