The Status of Voting

13 Jan

Voting is the one time that you at least seem to be equal with anyone else.  Of course there is voter registration (except for ND), residency, age, voter ID laws, possibility of absentee balloting, and ability to get to a poll during the specified time and at the correct place which serve as obstacles for a potential voter to cast their ballot.  The people are already disenfranchised before they vote with a variety of factors such as a lack of transparency in political contributions, gerrymandering once a decade, and electoral systems which (for better or for worse) produce a primary-driven instead of a general consensus candidate leading to a two-party system (which has both pros and cons).

Already at the beginning of this year, the Politico article “Voter ID Battle Set to Rage Again” already highlights yet another step in choosing, rather than winning, votes.  Let’s face it, the Republican party would rather have a restricted voting pool.  It seems to me that if they have to resort to this tactic, then their issues are not wanted by the plurality/majority of voters.  Shouldn’t we be looking to Oregon (which has instituted vote by mail) and Puerto Rico (where voting is a holiday).  A TED-ed video and the website Why Tuesday? also give reasons about why we vote on Tuesday due to an antiquated reason of white, male plantation owners and the limits of transportation, the Sabbath, and market day.

I love voting because even though it is not economically in my interest to gather information and mark my ballot, it is my civic duty.  If I complain about my local, state, or national government, it’s because I took an interest into at least trying to pick the people who would best serve my interests and those of my family.  I hope that we will take a more vested interest in voting, but that will unfortunately not happen until we change the institutions that prevent that from happening.

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Boris Shor, PhD

Associate Professor, Dep't of Political Science, U. of Houston

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