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  1. Florida

It's your job as a person who lives here

Former Gov. Bob Martinez in this morning's Times:

November's election is right around the corner, but performing your civic duty and being a good, engaged citizen requires more than marking a ballot. While I encourage citizens to participate on Nov. 4, and to make an informed decision at the polls, for our government to operate effectively citizens must care beyond the outcome of an election.

To hold government accountable, citizens must be involved in its processes. However, far too few Floridians are taking a genuine and meaningful interest in government. In our most recent election, statewide voter turnout was only 17.5 percent, the lowest it's been since 1998.

Why are Floridians choosing not to participate? One reason is likely because they lack good information about candidates, issues and government processes. Quality information about government is critical to meaningful participation in the public sphere, which ultimately holds government responsible for its actions.

When citizens aren't informed, they become disengaged. Disengagement eliminates adequate oversight of government by its people, and without that oversight, the door is open for poor decisionmaking by government officials.

This dangerous cycle must end. Floridians must have access to factual information that will foster their participation and involve them in the decisionmaking process that affects the quality of life for themselves and their families.

Florida TaxWatch announced the formation of the Center for Florida Citizenship this year on Sept. 17, which was Citizenship Day. The center will help prepare Floridians to better understand their government and encourage them to take an active role in policymaking. Keep reading.