Voting Is Not The Magical Cure All
Some people heartily endorse voting in this “democratic” system. I will likely vote in this election, despite not liking Biden either, but I am going in under no illusion that a simple changing of the guard will fix everything wrong with this country. An inordinate of people are commodifying life—and loss of life—as a segue into declaring on social media “VOTE”! Some will add, “if we want this to stop…vote”. This gives far more power in the ballot than is actually present and, for some, that power is nonexistent. There are many reasons the ballot does not hold sway, but a few are the electoral college, voter disenfranchisement (including the 13th amendment), and lifelong court appointments and holding all the power in each is the monstrous system known as white supremacy.
People claim that a vote is “using your voice”; however, your vote does not count in an election thanks to the electoral college and all that entails. While this won’t be an entire breakdown let’s look at some basics.
Electoral votes and the electoral college determine the winner of an election. Does your vote play a role? Somewhat. Each state is assigned an amount of electors/electoral votes based on the number of representatives they have in U.S. Congress. Now, for the majority of states, the electors are supposed to vote for whoever wins the popular vote in their state—i.e. if Biden wins the most votes in, say, Wisconsin, the electors are supposed to give him all the votes.
Unfortunately, that does not always happen. Because chosen electors can, and have voted against the popular vote (most recent was the 2016 presidential election where in both Washington and Colorado electors chose to vote for someone else, despite Clinton winning the popular vote in both states. After this is up to the courts to decide whether the elector is has committed a violation and what the ramifications should be. In Washington, the courts sided with the state and the electors were fined; however, in Colorado—where the electors were removed—the state was faulted and deemed lacking the authority to remove and replace electors who did not vote for the presidential nominee who won the popular vote.
Either situation is unsavory and diminishes the power of individual votes. An elector could vote how they choose and simply pay the fine. After all, if someone has the funds to pay the fines they can, essentially, do what they want. That’s par for the course in the U.S. and many other countries where one’s level of guilt/punishment is determined by their financial status. A millionaire will have no trouble paying the fine so, if anything, this serves to let them know that they can do what they want provided they have enough money.
This is precisely why the electoral college needs to be retired. Archaic systems that were designed with oppression in mind should not be maintained out of some misguided sense of tradition. Often, the terms “tradition” and “history” are simply used in the U.S. to retain white supremacist systems in perpetuity.
People often talk about the prison industrial complex because is primarly targets Black people. Black people are incarcerated at 6 times the amount of white people despite making up less than 15% of the U.S. population. Often, even the level of prosecution (state vs. federal charges) is used to levy the harshest sentences because Black people are often charged with federal charges while white people only receive state charges for the same things.
This is used to keep oppression and all it encompasses like poverty generationally turning. The next issue that aids them in this is the 13th Amendment which allows a citizen—once convicted of a crime—to lose certain rights; like voting.
Of the 50 states in the United States only 2 allow people serving time to vote from prison—Maine and Vermont. Every state other than those has immediate restrictions forbidding people incarcerated from voting. In 9 states—Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arizona, Wyoming, Iowa, Kentucky, Delaware and Tennessee—you can permanently lose your right to vote.
Some organizations are fighting in various states to push voter rights to be restored after serving time; however, people like Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and his ilk have fought to halt that. Florida voted to restore voting rights to felons so DeSantis and the state legislature, overwhelmingly Republican, amended that felons must first pay all fines and fees related to their convictions—essentially a poll tax.
Since most states have restrictions that do not allow voting while incarcerated, nor ease of access to the voter box once released that means a large portion of Black people at any given point are unable to vote in elections. It’s not only Black people either. Let’s look at some numbers.
The Numbers—Are You Kidding?!
—Black people make up 13.4% of the U.S. population, yet make up 38.5% of the prison population.
—Indigenous people make up about 2.9% of the U.S. population, yet make up 2.4% of the prison population.
—Asian people make up about 5.9% of the U.S. population, yet make up 1.5% of the prison population.
—Hispanic population makes up about 18.3% of the U.S. population, yet currently make up around 30% of the prison population.
Not only are the above numbers alarming enough, but Republicans have particularly gone out of the way to hinder the people who do have the ability to vote, opportunity to vote. Even recently, Jacob Wohl (conservative and beloved by the right) was charged along with Jack Burkman for making thousands of robocalls to at residents in several states to discourage them from mail in voting, threatening that they would be put on a list to be tracked by police, credit bureaus, etc. Illegal, but other steps Republicans have taken are accepted by the law.
To deter people in marginalized communities from voter, Republicans simply closed polling stations in those communities. If you’re in a urban setting like New York City that may be annoying; however, if you’re in a rural area and the next nearest polling station is miles away, and you don’t have a mode of transport, this can effectively shut down your shot at voting. And even if it doesn’t, the long lines and hours of waiting because there’s one polling station open for thousands can handily do it.
In the 2018 midterms in Kansas, officials moved the one polling station they had far enough away from the Hispanic population they wanted to prevent from voting, and also put the new station in a location without any public transportation. In Georgia since 2012, they have closed over 200 polling stations.
Those are only a couple of examples. There’s also malfunctioning equipment, polling stations closing despite people still on line to vote, misinformation by phone or mail so that people go to the wrong place, tighter restrictions such as voter id, that prevent you from voting, and the list goes on.
Another beloved pastime, particularly for Republicans, is purging voters from their rolls. Republicans get that most people will not vote for them, the less people who can vote, the more likely they win.
The controversial midterm elections in Georgia in 2018 where Republican Brian Kemp barely beat Democrat Stacey Abrams was a difference of about 50,000 votes. It was discovered that not only did Republicans try to discard absentee ballots for that election, but the Kemp also purged over 200,000 voters from the rolls for inane reasons like not voting in the last two elections. Other excuses were outright lies, claiming the person moved when they had not, and a large portion of those purged were Black people.
Between 2016 and 2018 around 17 million voters were purged. This doesn’t bode well for future elections and it’s sad to see so many people have faith in this system.
Oh, but we can fight it out in court you say? Hmm. Let’s see.
Naturally, the first lifelong appointment is the one currently about to go down in the Supreme Court. Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett so we could soon see abortion rights, immigration rights and ACA all being dismantled given her voting history.
If she is appointed we will be looking at the top court—primarily comprised of people who have no regard for life outside white, cis male—further undoing the minor strides we’ve been able to achieve over decades in short order.
Lifetime appointments to courts can wreak havoc for generations. Put simply and succinctly, few jobs check to ensure their people are not racist, sexist, homophobic garbage. In the end, a judge’s decision will be influenced by their biases and then that decision is taken as justice, fairness and equality.
There should never be lifelong appointments to any position as it gives them too absolute power, and they know their position is untouchable.
Supreme, federal circuit and district judges—known as Article III judges—all have lifetime appointments. Only in extremely rare circumstances can a judge be impeached and removed from their position. There is little to no oversight or accountable for these judges and it’s another reason why we are in peril.
Trump has already appointed two Supreme Court justices (Barrett will make three), and almost 200 lower federal court judges for lifetime appointments. Meaning, those judges will be responsible for deciding whether the cops violated the law when they racially profile, they will determine if the flimsy evidence provided is enough to sentence us. They will determine our punishment for the crime of not being white.
And then the conviction, the loss of voting rights…and so it continues.
This is even worse because of the impending election in November. Trump has already stated repeatedly that he would not simply accept losing the election—though with all they’ve prevent many people from voting he may not lose. But if he did and he contests it, the final say will lie with the Supreme Court. There were nine Supreme Court Justices, 4 Liberal (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayer, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan), and 5 Conservative (John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh). With Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, and if Trump is able to push Barrett through to the court, Conservatives will outnumber Liberals 6 to 3, 3 of which Trump appointed himself and they will make the decision whether the election, if Trump loses, will stand.
They will make the final call and there will be no legal recourse.
Overall, this isn’t to say don’t vote. It is your, and should be all of our, right. But do not hang the change you want to see on a ballot box. In the end, there’s a good chance it won’t have any effect, especially this time. So, think about what you want and are willing to do, to force this nation to change.
Because voting is not going to be the fix for all that we see.