Dis­cour­ag­ing cit­i­zens from vot­ing

The Week (US) - - 12 News - Noah Ber­latsky

Los An­ge­les Times

Ev­ery elec­tion sea­son, we’re told that peo­ple who fail to vote are “lazy, ap­a­thetic, and morally cul­pa­ble,” said Noah Ber­latsky. But the real rea­son we have so many cit­i­zens who don’t vote is that we have poli­cies de­lib­er­ately de­signed to dis­cour­age peo­ple from head­ing to the polls. From the be­gin­ning of the repub­lic, when only white, male prop­erty own­ers could cast bal­lots, our coun­try has dis­en­fran­chised large groups of peo­ple. Women didn’t gain the right to vote un­til 1920. Black men and women didn’t have their vot­ing rights guar­an­teed un­til 1965. To­day, many states refuse to let cit­i­zens with past felony con­vic­tions vote, which ef­fec­tively dis­en­fran­chises mil­lions of African-Amer­i­cans, while oth­ers adopt voter ID laws re­quir­ing driver’s li­censes or other photo IDs that blacks, His­pan­ics, the poor, and the young of­ten lack. Many coun­tries hold elec­tions on week­ends to make it easy to vote, but our Elec­tion Day is on Tues­day, when many low-paid work­ers are not given time off to vote. Thanks to all these ob­sta­cles, the U.S. ranks 31st among 34 de­vel­oped na­tions in voter turnout. Rather than blam­ing non­vot­ers, “that’s what we should be an­gry about—and what we need to change.”

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