In his acclaimed 1995 book "Bowling Alone," Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at Harvard University, offered a simple but compelling explanation for low voter turnout in American elections: Too many Americans are keeping to themselves. Social bonds and community ties break down, Putnam argued, when people stop participating in local civic group activities -- like bowling leagues, for example. This has huge implications for voter turnout, he wrote, because people who don't interact w…

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