Voting: How Much Is Skewed Right By The Process Itself?

In most places in the United States people have to vote on the first Tuesday in November at their designated polling place during the hours in which it happens to be open.  There are some variants on this, early voting in some states, voting by mail in others, absentee ballots for college students, the military, and other displaced individuals, etc. but for the most part people often have to take time off work to drive to a polling place that’s somewhat arbitrary.

I vote by mail in Washington, so my ballot is in weeks before the election, but when I lived in New York, my polling place was fifteen minutes from my house and even further from where I worked.  Luckily, I was a salaried 8-5 employee and it was open until 6:30 or 7 and never busy so voting was a quick and easy affair, but I imagine for many that’s not the case.

Right now I work hourly twenty minutes from my house when there’s no traffic.  If I had to choose between voting and dealing with the hassle of driving while having to make up the hours, I’m not sure I’d do it.  I imagine many others that aren’t as fortunate as I have to weigh these same choices, or worse, also have to consider how taking time off work is going to look to their supervisor.  Of course, employers can’t legally bar their employees from voting, but in most parts of this country “cannot legally” simply means that employers or supervisors have to use coercion through bad performance reviews or allegations of “not being a team player” instead of barring things outright.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the demographics here.  Those that have the easiest time voting are the most privileged classes, typically people who are white, straight, or male, if not all three.  People who typically vote republican.

And note that this isn’t even talking about actual voter restriction that comes in the form of ID laws or simply not providing enough voting machines to minority communities.  How much of the low voter turnout can be attributed to it simply being a pain in the ass for many people, and how much does that skew the results?


About Alex

I am awesome.

One comment

  1. I think about this all the time. Our system in so many ways is designed to make people feel demoralized and disenfranchised. That is what you get for a country built on slavery and genocide. There is a real mindset of fear about what would happen if all the poor, minorities, and women voted.

    I hear conservatives and right-wingers express that fear all the time, quite openly in fact. I hear it from my own conservative family members. They aren’t even sure they want to have a democracy and will state that without any shame. It is considered completely acceptable that a certain category of people should have the most influence.

    I’m not sure our society is going to come to terms with this fear anytime soon. Maybe someday we’ll have a national election day that everyone gets off. I doubt we’ll see it in my lifetime, but it could happen with all the demographic changes.

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