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Audio slideshow

America votes

Through portraits and three questions, ordinary voters address their thoughts on government and a contentious midterm campaign season. The questions used were from a survey, titled "The Role of Government," developed by The Washington Post, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University.

AUDIO SLIDESHOW: Melina Mara and Megan Rossman - The Washington Post, Nov. 1, 2010

The ringing principle we cling to as Americans is that all are created equal. We donít stay that way. Fortunes are made, houses are lost, children are left behind. Choice, and chance, sort us into groups and cohorts crammed with differences that never seem more stark than on the eve of an election. We argue about what our nation is and what we want it to be. Politicians tramp through certain places and ignore others. Pollsters pluck certain people as random samples, then predict behavior of millions. Billions are spent to influence results. Then it all stops, swept aside because the voters have the final word, and the only word. What reasserts our equality is the ballot. It silences the noise and makes the nation indivisible again. It is the right and responsibility given each citizen at 18, and its total power comes from its simplicity: One person, one vote, free to all. Ann Gerhart

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Political news and analysis by The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza.
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