voting inequalities in the US

“We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.” Barack Obama

Following a poorly attended local election in France last weekend, over-interpreted by media and political analysts as usual, with poorer categories more likely to abstain, I reflected on the supplementary degree of voting inequality in the US, where active voter suppression and voting discrimination run uncontested by legislative and constitutional bodies. As it happens, even for federal elections, the election laws are state-based, voted by partisan state lawmakers and implemented by equally partisan officials.This means discriminating practices can become part of these laws, including different restrictions on acceptable forms of identification that poorer voters may be unable to purchase, restrictions on voter registration and in particular on active drives for minority registrations, discriminatory closures of voting (poll) places,  as e.g. a single voting place for 600,000 voters, meaning unreachable stations for those without transportation means and those housebound, abusive voter purges by local administrations, e.g., the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck System having 99% more chances to remove legitimate than illegitimate voters, lifelong felon disenfranchisement, including for citizens having completed their sentence, some places asking for on-the-spot proof of US citizenship, involving document poorer voters cannot access, mail-in voting discrimination, no worker protection for participating in the vote, which takes place during the week, grossly underfunded poll budgets, leading for instance to hour long polling queues and various mismanagement of the votes, the possibility for National Guard staffing poll stations, and the century long absurdity of gerrymandering, where something like 60 million Americans live in a place where the ruling party has received the minority of the votes in a state election. Not to mention the election by an electoral college of the president where the winner may lag by 3 million votes behind his contender… And running uncontested grossly misleading political adds


2 Responses to “voting inequalities in the US”

  1. There are subtleties here which could derail the voting discrimination and gerrymandering project. With the absurd increase in the proportion of U.S. citizens who are incarcerated, there is a Constitutional question about whether or not their home states are entitled to continue to count them when numbers of representatives of the U.S. House are calculated and, perhaps more importantly, numbers of Electoral College delegates are calculated.

    To the degree incarcerated individuals surrender their right to vote, there is a rationale which says that, as individuals without representation, they should no longer be counted towards a citizen public and, so, the state doing so should be deprived of that portion when numbers of House representatives and Electoral College delegates are calculated.

    If they retain their right to vote, at the very least, it seems the home counties and districts from which the imprisoned hail ought to be deprived of their counting towards their voting populations, and these ought to be transferred to the counties where the prisons in which they are incarcerated. This is as problematic in many cases, because counties where prisons are located are generally more urban than home counties, so this disrupts the political calculus.

    Unfortunately it may take more adjudicated U.S. Supreme Court cases to thrash this out. No one should believe the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution is consistently done.

    • Interesting hypothesis! If considering all persons that are or have been incarcerated, this would mean a 5% change, which is more than the difference between candidates in recent elections. I just do not see the rationale for banning convicted or incarcerated people from voting, it reminds me of earlier centuries voting restrictions to men paying income tax or owning property. Always forces at work to circumvent the “one person one vote” principle.

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