Monday Notes: Democracy and Voter Suppression

pollsA democracy is “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.”

Sounds simple, right? The people have the power and we vote in elections so that other people can put in place the things we care about and want.

Well, just a second. I learned years ago that the United States of America is actually more akin to a republic, which specifically has an elected president, not a king or heir, and is “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.”

Tomato…tomato, eh? I don’t know and I won’t bore you with more definitions. I’m just confused about what we’re doing here in America, which is supposed to be a democratic republic.

As I’m writing this, Kentucky successfully removed 3,530 polling locations. Closing polls made little sense to me. Even if this were a COVID-safety move and the government was concerned about social distancing, I don’t understand why the state would have fewer polls, instead of more. Wouldn’t more polls facilitate an easier process?

AmericaBut you know what people in Louisville and Lexington did with one polling place? They stood in line for hours. The Kentucky primaries have ended. Joe Biden won. Charles Booker, a Black representative from Louisville, who ran to be the democrat on the ticket for Senate, lost. Was closing the majority of polling places purposeful?  Will Kentuckians demand their polling places re-open, or will this be the norm for not only that state, but also others?

Furthermore, whether we live in a democracy or a republic, I’m concerned that voter suppression, a common occurrence in our country, continues to be a thing even though supreme power is supposed to lie with the people, not its leaders. Is supreme power of the people an illusion? Did we ever really have this power?

Maybe we’ve acquiesced our power for something more entertaining. For example, what else happened when Kentuckians found out there would be one polling place? Did people complain a little bit and go back to binge watching their favorite online show? Listen, I don’t want to bash the good people of Kentucky. And I’m not a sky is falling kind of person, but we are living in critical times. Life is exhausting. We are experiencing all of the things all of the time, but we still have to use our collective voice to attain fair and equal treatment within our republic. Don’t we?

Poll closing is a form of voter suppression and can occur anywhere, in any state. So, I have a few questions: What would you do if your state closed 95% of the polling places? Would you stand in line for six hours and hope they didn’t close more in November, or would you demand that your democratic right to elect officials be easier?

***

Think this can’t happen in your state? Here is more information about voter suppression and how it effects specific socioeconomic classes, races, and ethnicities.

58 thoughts on “Monday Notes: Democracy and Voter Suppression

  1. A Political Science lesson! YAAASSS! AN IMPORTANT ONE–INDEED!

    I know voter suppression all too well because I live under the reign of crazy ass Gov. Brain (spelled that way intentionally because he sooooo “smart”) Kemp who stole the election from Stacy Abrams.

    In June 2020, he pulled that closed polls, “user errors” with the technology MESS… and so on –ad nauseum.

    I’m including a link to Stacy Abram’s non-profit called Fair Fight, they are fighting against voter suppression and LeBron James is working with them as well.

    Chile forgive me if someone has already hit on this, I did not have time to read the comments.
    Here’s the link: https://fairfight.com/

    By the way, some would say that we are a Constitutional Republic, but Donald Trump is running roughshod over THAT!

    He gotta go!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know this is your area Lady G lol I don’t know whose governor is crazier, yours or mine?

      Thanks for adding that link! No one has yet. Girl, I’m so nervous about this upcoming election, I’m legit looking for some other habitable places :-/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was literally just thinking about this topic the other day. I plan to vote in person unless I am sick with flu or COVID, but I completely share your alarm and concern. In the midst of a pandemic, we should allow mail in voting and ensure that ALL voting stations are open. I was mortified at how they closed so many voting stations during previous primaries, and not just in Kentucky. None of these anti-mail in vote folks mention this when they go off against mail in voting. If the GOP is so concerned about mail in voting being corrupt (falsely, I believe), they have had plenty of time to come up with a plan to make it safe for people to vote, and still have three months to do so. But they won’t, because they don’t want them to vote. They want them suppressed, and now the prez has his flunky running the post office, so that is always the last minute, back up plan, to either close it down around election time or find some other way to keep the mail from getting delivered. I truly believe that is what we are going to see. Mitch McConnell is just as bad, which is why I have donated twice now to his opponent’s (Amy McGrath) campaign. That old gnome has to go.

    Like

  3. Thank you for sharing!.. the problem at the moment is there are a element of America’s society that resist change, otherwise polling places could be made safe to use.. like schools, businesses, etc, I am sure if “everyone” worked together I am sure polls could be made safe for use should one wish to vote that way instead of mail in, etc… as for me, I have used mail in and online so going to a polling place is not a big deal… 🙂

    Hope all is well in your world and all your tomorrows are filled with happiness… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Now there’s a question that’s crossed my mind whenever we have UK elections, the power is supposed to lie with the people but as you say ‘Did we ever really have this power?’ Was it all an illusion, we have elections every four years choosing between two not so different party’s populated by averagely (sometimes corrupt) men and women, more than one US President has uttered the phrase ‘we the people get the leaders we deserve’ (Obama on YouTube). But most depressingly of all and a topic Michael Moore has touched upon, sadly it’s the most disadvantaged in society who don’t appear to vote and yet they have the most to gain electing a social promoting government…………. instead it’s the super rich who gain vast amounts of money courtesy of tax breaking government. (Big sigh, that’s politics the same the world over and never changes.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s manipulation of the election in a big way. Makes no sense reducing booths due to Covid. Just makes voters have to wait in line longer increasing potential of spread.
    I sincerely hope America manage to stop Trump staying on. He is a total narcissist. Dangerous to America and to the rest of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m still dumbfounded that everybody doesn’t have vote-by-mail like we do here in Oregon. This past year they even added postage paid envelopes so people couldn’t even use the excuse of not having a stamp. But you know what the irony is? In the May primaries in my County only 40% voted and in Portland it was just over 50%. With ballots that come right to your house. My husband was born in Australia where voting is compulsory and while the fine is only around $100, rates are consistently between 95 and 99%. Everybody has parties and barbecues to celebrate voting day down there while here there is so much apathy and/or cynicism in half of the population. The closing of polls it’s important but not surprising in the current political climate…and ironically of course why it’s even more important that people do whatever they have to do and November to make their voices heard.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes…a blogger just told me that indigenous people in Arizona aren’t allowed to mail their ballots. I thought it was a right given to all states! I think it’s apathy combined with voter suppression that allows these conditions to persist.

      Australia sounds like a nice place to move to 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, yeah Australia is good for that for sure…but having been there many times, unfortunately my old saying about Oz is that it’s “a combination of Europe…and Alabama”. They’re much more like America than they’d like to admit, some ways better, some ways worse.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. One way that I believe voter suppression is achieved is by requiring an individual to register to vote. If its a right then why do I need to register? Our data is compiled in a central location at the state and federal level. They know our social security number, our address of record, and how much money we make.

    If I were king for a day, filing taxes would automatically register you to vote and you would remain registered until you disqualify yourself or die.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. in Oregon they have what is called motor voter at the DMV so when you get your driver’s license you’re automatically registered to vote. But we still need people to fill out their ballot. And in many states we need to remove the restriction on inmates and convicted felons. I’ve always been disgusted that they say all you need to be to vote is a US citizen yet if you are incarcerated or were formerly incarcerated, suddenly you lose your constitutional right to vote… Makes zero sense.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. sooo I don’t know if you’ve heard but here in Florida we voted that incarceration rule out, but now they’ve said convicted felons have to pay prior court fines and fees before they can vote, which one court ruled as a poll tax, which of course, is illegal…but there’s still a huge conundrum about it that hasn’t been solved.

        Here’s the latest: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/07/11th-circuit-florida-fines-fees-judicial-ethics.html

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes we heard about that and were so excited until the poll tax thing came up which didn’t surprise me with the governor there and Florida government’s history with elections like with GW Bush back in 2000.

        I must say, being an Oregonian, we have been incredibly sheltered from Republicans – only 2 Republican governors since 1967, and one being Tom McCall, in office when I was born, who was actually a bit of a hippie with an incredible environmental track record (he made all of our beaches public in the state). We may have a shitty history in other ways, but I’ve never had to worry about state and congressional leadership. Now local leadership is a cluster, however…that’s why it’s so vital for folks to understand that elections aren’t just once every 4 years for President ya know?

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I have only voted by mail for the last 12 years. It makes me very upset about how Republicans rig things in their favor. It sure doesn’t feel democratic to me!
    And especially with the pandemic and putting peoples’ lives at risk by reducing polling places and having people in unsafe situations who can’t do vote by mail. it’s downright wrong.

    I love the questions you posed at the end of your post, Katherin. Right now, I’m willing to do almost anything to vote out the current administration!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for this Judy.

      We absolutely HAVE to do all we can to stop Donald Trump from being president again. Our country, and really the world, will be worst for it.

      As for mail-in ballots…our president has already begun a campaign against this practice and is trying to to close the USPS. We all have to be vigilant.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such an important topic, Kathy. I hope it can become a movement. For the record, I was born and raised in the U.S. but ended up in Canada decades ago and am now a Canadian citizen and not an American citizen. Because of that, I don’t like to be overly critical of another country’s processes (well, these days I don’t always do a good job of that). But this topic really bothers me. The US has been rightly considered the model for modern democracy for a long time. But voter suppression, gerrymandering, and allowing unlimited amounts of money to be used for endless campaigning isn’t democracy. This just doesn’t happen in other western democracies. I sure hope somehow a nationwide wave of support to put this right can get badly needed changes started.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Ahh but remember Canadians are not letting Americans in because of the virus… Like all the countries who are doing better at protecting their citizens. My vote would be New Zealand if I had one – Jacinda is an amazing PM…

        Liked by 2 people

  10. “understand why the state would have fewer polls, instead of more. Wouldn’t more polls facilitate an easier process?”
    Yes, our Republic (to which those of us who went to elementary school up in NJ in the 70’s used to pledge allegiance daily) is allowing voter suppression via poll closures, and it should not be allowed. I am also used to voting by mail now, in CA. If that fails, I will be on the phone, email, and at my rep’s website while quarantine lasts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for this comment. I’m not feeling confident about mail-in ballots this year. Our president has already begun a campaign against this practice and is trying to to close the flipping USPS. These are, indeed, challenging times to say the least.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The state of CA just sent email reminders yesterday “To make sure you get your ballot, we are asking all California voters to double-check their voter registration at:” and the ballots are to come with pre-paid postage.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Closing down polling places is absolutely a form of voter suppression. Trump continues to attack mail-in ballots and try to shut down the USPS, but I plan to request a mail-in ballot in November and vote that way. With the pandemic still raging, ballots should be mailed out to all registered voters, and the reply should be postage-paid. I’ve heard mail-in ballots will require 2 stamps, just FYI. If you use only one, your ballot won’t get delivered or counted. The voting system needs to be reformed. Enough polling locations is one piece, but we also need to stop gerrymandering and get rid of the Electoral College. In an age where we can do anything instantly online, every vote should carry equal weight. If you have to redraw districts and fudge and cheat to win, you shouldn’t win.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for mentioning Trump’s role in ruining mail-in ballots Joan! And also thanks for adding the extra information. I had no idea you now need TWO stamps. Something so trivial can be the downfall of many Americans.

      I completely agree with everything you’ve said here. We live in the 21st century for goodness sake! But, deep down, I believe politicians would somehow find a way to hack new ways, too.

      Like

  12. I agree – closing polling stations IS suppression. I don’t know why it’s allowed. I think it’s as bad as voting/ballot fraud. Neither side should be able to ruin the trust in the most sacred institution that this nation has.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Gerrymandering is another thing that needs to stop. Increase voting sites, stop gerrymandering, stop voter fraud and issue voter ID’s and I think that would do a lot for both sides to keep integrity and trust in the voting system.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. It happened in Phoenix a few years ago . They turned people away , and theres was lines of people waiting vote in the 100 degree weather . I do mail in voting now , but its still really sad that in a city this big theres not enough voting machines for everyone. And yes its on purpose too .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for this comment K!

      I didn’t know this happened in Phoenix! So, I’m totally onboard with mail-in ballots. My concern now is our president has already begun a campaign against this practice and is trying to close the USPS.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know he’s absolutely bonkers. I’ll have to send you the link about the how the Indigenous people in Montana have been fighting for their right to use mail in ballots. Most of the people on reservations can’t go to a physical voting booth , but the state didn’t want to count mail in ballots. The amount of voter suppression is awful. And the closing of USPS would be devestating.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Honestly, I’d either vote absentee in advance at City Hall or I’d get a mail-in ballot, which is what I’ll probably do for the November election.

    I think we’re going to see a lot more of this kind of maneuvering in advance of the election, but I think that it’s going to mainly be in places where the far right already has a stronghold. It sucks what’s happening in Kentucky, but let’s be honest, I can’t even imagine what it would take for Trump to lose there. He’s up by 15 to 20 points in most polls.

    Barack Obama won because people who had never voted before were willing to stand outside advance voting places for hours on the weekends leading up to the election and some version of that, even if it’s virtual, will have to happen for Biden to win.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Joshua, thanks for commenting. I completely agree I also think once upon a time (4 years ago), absentee was a viable option; however, our president has already begun a campaign against this practice and is trying to to close the USPS.

      I’m at a complete loss for what we can do this year 😦

      Like

  15. You are absolutely right in your interpretation of the word Democracy. I originated in Greece and first
    came to force in the 5th century BC.
    We ought to have got the hang of it now.

    As to voting, don’t you have the option of postal votes.? In most European countries you can choose.
    Wouldn’t that be perfect during the Pandemic? Give everyone a chance to add their voice.

    Miriam

    Liked by 2 people

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