I think there is a lot of truth to this. We see people blaming the Democrats for putting up weak candidates but part of why they appear weak is that large numbers voters who would have voted for them were not able to cast ballots. Since a large part of Democrat base is African Americans and Hispanics who are probably affected the most by voter suppression this strategy is really hurting Democratic candidates, particularly those who focus on identity politics. The Republicans are basically a regional minority party and they realize that. They are very smart when it comes to counting votes. They realize their only chance to attain power is prevent people from voting. The alternative for Republicans would be to try to expand their base. One way to do that would be to moderate their views on immigration reform. But that would probably cause them to lose much of their present base so they are stuck. What they are doing instead of expanding their base is practicing the politics of fear and voter suppression. However, this has now gotten completely out of hand and is heading toward fascism. Creating false fears about Muslims and Hispanics to get votes can only lead down a road that nobody who cares about democracy would want to travel.
Yes, there is incredible voter suppression, but the Democratic party is guilty of that as well, California being a prime example. It is also known, although not well known, that the software for counting votes is easily manipulated.
We need paper ballots that are counted by hand in each precinct, with oversight.
Time to stop accusing Russia and do something about using proprietary machines and software to decide our elections. Time to open up the process entirely, debates and open primaries and ranked choice voting. Time for a little democracy.
Can you provide some examples of current day Democratic voter suppression? Has any Democrat sponsored:
any voter ID laws,
Compiled "cxrosscheck" lists of black people
closed polling places in black neighborhoods,
Thrown out voter registration card gathered in black neighborhoods
Stationed people at polling places to harass and intimidate black voters
Run phone banks and pass out fliers with fraudulent false election dates and other fake information - targeted at black neighborhoods.
Engaged in race and political affiliation drawing of district boundaries to lock in republicans for generations.
All these things have been done in my Republican dominated state. How about California?
And regarding "open primaries" - why should non-members - including enemies of a party - have a say in the selection of the party's candidates? Would you want Republicans or Democrats to have a say in the selection of the Green Party Candidates?
You should see the opaque internal party process used to select candidates in other democracies - including the ones who use IRV and proportional representation like Australia. There are no "primaries" there at all. The party leadership picks the candidates in a smoky room and if the candidate steps over any lines he or she is out. You should se some of the things that got candidates kicked off the ballot in the last Canadian election.
"none of this would be possible if the Voting Rights Act remained fully intact"
Truth Spoken by the Man in the Trenches
My positive priorities are as follows:
First, look for election systems that deliver a semblance of truly democratic representation, and then know what you want. The white male millionaire class is wildly overrepresented in the U.S. Congress. Best system so far: the Cambridge, Massachusetts City Council election system. Because of its longevity the Cambridge method of single transferable vote is well tested -- it has been up and running since 1940. It delivers a city council that looks like the Cambridge population, about 50% women, proportionally African-American, Hispanic, East Asian, with near-students and LGBT City Council members too. Furthermore, just because you've been representing a certain class of voters doesn't mean that two other people won't challenge you in the next election for that particular set of voters, so political virtues such as integrity, sociability and intelligence count too. The elections are cheap and affordable because it's almost impossible to buy a majority of the city council, so the incumbents don't sit on a pile of slush money.
The results so far have been that nobody looted the city treasury, the city's bond rating is perpetually AAA, and city services, jobs and schools are good. It's like playing Sim City.
So, I pronounce the Single Transferable Vote method of legislative elections to be the citizen's friend, the crooked politician's enemy and the race card politician's enemy.
To get Single Transferable Vote into common use, use it in your co-op council, in your church council, in your union council, in your PTO council and in your student council. Elect neighborhood councils this way, then get the city to send small amounts of self-rule funding down for use in local parks and local schools. Crooks everywhere fear and curse STV like vampires hate sunlight. Rebel anywhere that you can against 51% majority rule and 49% minority fool racist systems. Say no and throw rotten tomatoes at the old crooked, near-dictatorial election system.
Next, find little niches so that Single Transferable Vote elections can be used in odd corners of city politics. Try an honestly elected zoning board, for example.
I know, this article is about one awful thing being worse than the next awful thing and we can't do much about either one. But that kind of talk isn't a positive step forward. I'll acknowledge that thousands of voters were feloniously thrown off of the voting rolls, also that Georgia voting machines are infamous for skewing violently to the right of the polls in close elections, and that a couple of mysterious billionaires just spent $11 million on one single House seat in a safe Republican district. Sure the seat is for sale!
I still don't understand the media's infatuation with the Russian Hacking thing. We did this to ourselves with our arcane election process, From the Democrat's super delegate scheme to the electoral college charade. Trump 62,985,106 popular votes, Clinton 65,853,625 and 8,261,498 spoiler votes. In a run-off most of the spoiler votes would simply have gone to Clinton. Stein's message was a copy of Sanders and Johnson was a devout globalist.
The democratic party has not been interested in election integrity. Both parties use election to claim that they are legitimate. Republicans have been playing the game of excluding voters for decades and they get away with the lie about people voting illegally. Recent article by Bob and Harvey after the GA election
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman have written a half dozen books on election integrity.
WA Post last year had 2 articles that pointed out that the US has the worst election system of 42 major democracies.
Over the years, Common Dreams has posted articles by Fitrakis and Wassermen.
Another long term player is the journalist Greg Palast who has been following election crimes for almost 2 decades.
Greg was on democracynow last week before the election in GA. A video and transcript.
Open primaries help progressives in the Democratic Party because the majority of Democrats are center left and support establishment candidates. Open primaries probably get a lot more people voting which is good for democracy but as you point out there are a number drawbacks. Certainly where Republicans are allowed to vote in the Democratic primary they may vote for who they perceive is the easiest candidate to defeat. But each state decides what type primary to hold. I think the most undemocratic type of election is a caucus. Only a very small percentage of voters participate and they are usually the voters who are most involved in politics. Barack Obama really won the primary in 2008 by being very strong in caucuses and Bernie Sanders avoided a landslide loss in pledged delegates last year by being strong in caucuses.
Let's not neglect Interstate Crosscheck, the multi-state plan devised by Chris Kobach, formerly Kansas Sec of State and now head of Trump's Election Commission - you otherwise would have to LOL if it were not such sick perversion. Interstate Crosscheck strikes voters of the registration rolls if the have a similar name to someone living in another state. Sick. What even makes this legal.
I'm surprised some of these people denied their rightful vote have not taken Kobach to court.
Yea it's not well known b/c you just made it up.
Voting-by-mail and registration at the DMV when getting DL, car titles, plates, etc, and same day registration, etc. would increase turn out. There are other small tweaks that could make a difference, like a national voting holiday or voting over a four day weekend ( Sat. Sun.Mon.Tues. )
The Republicans don't want any of this, of course.
They want to privatize the U.S.P. S. so they'll never agree to vote-by-mail. They hate national holidays because they're paid, as well.
Just about anything regarding ease of voting would help more progressive forces in America gain political clout. The 90% white, evangelical and only true American political party, aka Republicans, are against all of them. At this point, it's all so predictable and all so lame.
Excellent post, Bodeswell.
First, believe it or not, there are a lot of USAns that don't have cars or a drivers license notably in larger cities that have some semblance of public transit. This is increasingly the case with many millennials. Hopefully this number increases since we need to be moving away from cars. The whole idea of tying voting and citizen participation to car ownership is vile. Fuck the Car! No country in the world would even think of such a thing. Everywhere else in the world (I will use Canada for an example) people are simply registered to vote, permanently, by virtue of simply having their birth registered. Then, starting at 18 years of age, a reminder card with the polling place is sent to the address of the voter are found from their last tax return or other interaction with the government. There is no individual "voter registration" at all.
Voting by mail - with the exception of legitimate absentee voters - is a bad idea. Elections are dynamic things and late developments can greatly change voter preferences as the recent Montana election did, where a large number of voters would have changed their mind the day before the election had they not mailed their votes in weeks in advance. Think of how different the UK election would have been had they allowed mail-in voting. The solution is simply to hold elections on Sunday like all civilized countries do.
It is enraging the way USAns, in their arrogance and exceptionalism, obstinately invent and re- invent and re-invent the wheel that more enlightened countries already figured out long ago.
Can you clarify? Simply changing ones party affiliation (and knowing the deadline for doing it) is not an onerous requirement. I've managed to do it continuously - flipping between Green and Democrat - from election to election. It can even be done on the internet in my "Commonwealth".
Asking for a person to have some "skin in the game" by party affiliation registration in order to have a say in candidate selection is far less than what is needed in all the more proper-functioning democracies out there - where you have to be a party insider to have a say.
Also, I lived in a state that saw an election sabotaged by the Republicans in an open primary (Henry Howell, Virginia). So I have a bad taste in my mouth about "open" primaries - especially the California style where one can end up with candidates of the same party running against one another.
More broadly, we need to move away from the uniquely USAn "cult of the charismatic individual" in elections. Everywhere else in the world, it is multiple parties - each with a clearly-spelled out manifesto and agenda - that poeple direct their allegiances.
I favor closed primaries. The role of the party is to run candidates so I don't see why anyone not registered with a party should be involved in choosing the candidate of the party. I live in a state with closed primaries and I think they work well. The one thing that should be improved is informing the public about the deadline for registering for a party. Too many people can find out too late and miss the deadline. In some states you can register with a party on election day but in number of others you have to register well in advance. The way presidential elections work here the best system is a two-party system. If you had more parties the outcome would be determined in the House of Representatives because it would be unlikely any candidate could win a majority of electoral college votes.
Right on! Reverend Barber!
Whatever you say, Lefty. Will do it your way, 55% nat'l participation in 2016.
Oregon -70% of registered voters participate. Lots and lots of them ride bicycles, too. This # will continue to go up even as 40K move into our state from, oh nos... someplace else. There were 6-7 parties, as well, with 10% voting for smaller parties.
Read the results yourself, Che.
They were small suggestions to help out but you're a BIG TIME LEFTY; got it, Comrade.
Hello Lrx, I disagree about a road that nobody who cares about democracy would want to travel. The Republicans/Right Wingers care about democracy. The care enough to kill it and move directly to fascism!!!!!
Hello WallaceN, In case you haven't been awake since the introduction of easily manipulated electronic voting machines they are made primarily for easy electronic hacking by those that write the firmware/software as well as lacking even the most elementary security guards! Other countries have even banned those machines as they are just excrement and won't provide honest election results!