America’s Wake-Up Call – Voting & Voters — Part II

Last Wednesday, we began with Part I of our three-part reprisal from earlier posts in February & March.  One of the biggest hurdles to free and fair elections in this country are those who don’t vote for one reason or another.  It is always important, for our vote is our voice, but this year so much is riding on the election in November that we felt it was important … nay, critical … to re-post this series about why people don’t vote.


Only 67% of all eligible voters are even registered to vote.  That is only two out of every three adults.  In last week’s post, we looked at the reasons people gave for not voting, some of which were ludicrous, such as “forgot”, “weather”, and “too busy”.  But there are some legitimate reasons that people do not vote.  To understand these, I think it is important to look at some of the demographics of the non-voters.

Race

Among white voters, 73.5% of eligible voters did actually vote in 2016.  But minorities were much less likely to vote, with only 69.7% of African-Americans, 59.4% of Latinos, and the lowest group being Asians at 55.3%.

Age

Not surprisingly, the percentage of eligible voters who vote increases with age:

Age 18 to 24       58.5%

Age 25 to 34       66.4%

Age 35 to 44       69.9%

Age 45 to 54       73.5%

Age 55 to 64       76.6%

Age 65 to 74       78.1%

Age 75 or older 76.6%

But, after the February 2018 Parkland, Florida school shooting,  the percentage of young voters voting took a significant leap in the 2018 mid-term elections.

Education

There is absolutely nothing surprising in this set of statistics:

Less than high school graduate  50.5%

High school graduate      64.1%

Some college     75.3%

Bachelor’s degree            81.2%

Advanced degree            85.8%

Income

Again, no real surprises here:

Less than $20,000           63.7%

$20,000 to $29,999          67.1%

$30,000 to $39,999          71.1%

$40,000 to $49,999          72.6%

$50,000 to $74,999          78.2%

$75,000 to $99,999          81.9%

$100,000 and over          79.6%

While this one isn’t surprising, it is disturbing, for the very people who most need fairness from our government are the least likely to vote to make a difference.

Taken together, when we look at the demographics, look at who is and who isn’t voting, is it any wonder that we currently have a government that is “Of the wealthy white people, By the wealthy white people, and For the wealthy white people”?  They are the ones who vote!

All of the above statistics are understandable when put into context.  There are a number of things that have led to the disenfranchisement of lower income and minority voters.  Consider gerrymandering, redistricting states so that most minorities are grouped into as few as districts as possible so as to be given a much weaker voice than their white counterparts.  I have shared this graphic before, but it is still the clearest, most understandable explanation of how gerrymandering can change the outcome of an election:And then there are the various efforts by many states to make it more difficult for lower income and minorities to vote, such as shortening the hours that polls are open, and closing polling places in poorer or predominantly minority areas. Twenty states do not allow a person convicted of a felony to vote while serving a sentence or while on probation.  Two states, Florida and Virginia, permanently disallow convicted felons voting privileges.

In some cases, voter I.D. may be difficult to obtain.  Consider these cases:

A 96-year-old woman in Tennessee was denied a voter-ID card despite presenting four forms of identification, including her birth certificate. A World War II veteran was turned away in Ohio because his Department of Veterans Affairs photo ID didn’t include his address. Andrea Anthony, a 37-year-old black woman from Wisconsin who had voted in every major election since she was 18, couldn’t vote in 2016 because she had lost her driver’s license a few days before. – New York Times, 10 March 2018

In 1965, Congress passed, and President Lyndon Johnson signed into law, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, perhaps the single most important piece of legislation to come from the Civil Rights movement.  It eliminated certain barriers to voting, such as literacy testing and other requirements that denied many blacks the right to vote.  Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act precluded certain states and districts that had a history of disenfranchising blacks, from implementing any change affecting voting without receiving pre-approval from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court for D.C.  But in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 5 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.  Chief Justice John Roberts said, essentially, that times had changed and the Court believed racial discrimination was no longer the problem it was in the 1960s.  I wonder if he would still say that today?  Almost immediately on the heels of this ruling, Texas announced new voter identification laws and redistricting maps.  Other states in the South followed suit.

Referring back to last Wednesday’s post, we looked at some of the reasons people gave for not voting.  When we look at the 6% who said they did not vote due to ‘registration problems’, or the 2.7% who claimed ‘inconvenient polling place’, or the 2.6% who said they had ‘transportation problems’, perhaps we can understand those reasons.  Consider the single mom who is not allowed to take time off work, so she goes to vote after work. The polling station in her neighborhood closed last year, so she now has to take a bus to her new polling place 45 minutes away from where she works.  Meanwhile, her children are home alone with nobody to cook their supper, or supervise them.  What would you do?

It is obvious that there are some people who do not vote with good reason.  We need to find solutions to the barriers for minorities and others who are truly disenfranchised.  We also need to find ways to inspire and motivate those who make excuses not to vote, to convince them that their vote is crucial.  And we need to make voting more accessible to all.  In Part III, we will take a look at some things that may contribute to increasing the numbers of people who vote.  There is no single panacea, but I believe there are a number of things that can be done at the federal and state levels, as well as by people like me and you, people who care about our country.  Stay tuned …

America’s Wake-Up Call — Table of Contents

Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

41 thoughts on “America’s Wake-Up Call – Voting & Voters — Part II

  1. Pingback: America’s Wake-Up Call — Voting & Voters — Part III | Filosofa's Word

  2. Pingback: America’s Wake-Up Call — Table of Contents | Filosofa's Word

  3. A free society is one in which each citizen is free to vote or not vote according to their own conscience, and consciousness. I know how you feel, Jill (and friends), but you do not have the right to tell anyone they are

    Liked by 1 person

    • wrong to exercise their right to live their life as they see fit. Responsibility is a two-way street. If non-voters are responsible for allowing extremists to be elected, voters are responsible for allowing extremists to even get on the ballots.
      Democracy is just about the worst form of government ever invented by humans, and now you are seeing the fruits of your blindness. You are the ones who made Trump possible, so take that responsibility upon yourselves. That is its final resting place, not those of us who choose to not vote for the better of two evils. Evil is evil, I don’t care who is less evil!

      Liked by 1 person

      • rawgod, you make some credible points here as well.

        those of you who want required voting are supporting something as tyrannical as that which you claim you’re attempting to expunge by voting for the lesser of two evils.

        Think about that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Right, Scott and Jerry … and yet, those who are too lazy or think they are making a statement by not voting … they still expect to reap the rewards and benefits of a democratic country, yes? They won’t lift a finger to do anything, but they will sit back and take their rights to free speech, to own guns, to protest, and more. Sorry, you play you pay. Or perhaps a better saying would be “Use it or lose it” … you don’t CHOOSE to vote this time, then maybe next time you won’t have that privilege/right!

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        • I thought about that years ago, Scott, and concluded I will not support a system that cannot and will not ever work. If, and only if, I can choose the person I find capable of holding power for the good of the people, with no desire to actually weild that power, only then would I consider giving up my right to govern myself. And the only person I have ever met capable of being that person is me. And I know myself too well to ever give me my vote!

          Liked by 1 person

          • another good point. People tend to forget that we don’t actually live in a democracy but a constitutional republic, though I am sad to say that people on both sides of the isle have elected to willfully forget about the constitution part of that equation.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Trump has rendered your Constitution useless. A president is now immune to oversight, even if not Covid-19, no matter how much he believes he is.
              And on that subject, I no longer believe Trump was even infected, just trying another political stunt. What an ass!

              Liked by 1 person

    • People in this country claim their ‘constitutional rights’ … they even claim rights that nobody ever gave them. Okay, but with rights come responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to participate in choosing the government and the people who will make the laws that govern our lives. When these people take, take, take their rights and refuse to accept the responsibility of voting, then they are, in essence, also giving up not only their rights, but costing the rest of us our own rights as well. How? Well, the people who didn’t vote in 2016 elected Donald Trump just as surely as those who checked off his name on their ballots. There is NO justification for not accepting this responsibility. Period.

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              • How familiar are you with Stranger? Heinlein was an ex-army officer who believed only citizens who served in the Armed Forces, or served the USA in some other civic way, should have the right to vote. If you were a parasite on the nation, even if you were a millionaire in those days, if you didn’t serve you were not aTrue American. He never really changed t
                hat stance, but when he wrote Stranger
                he questioned every social and cultural belief, and after a while he discovered he was not so happy with even those who served. He wasn’t a plutocrat, but he became a
                something-ocrat he couldn’t quite define even at his death. He realized, as does Trump today, that too many people are political imbeciles, prone to believing anyone who talked a good game. Trump took advantage of that. Heinlein was afraid someone would. And he was right. But he struggled with how to divide voters from non-voters. He predicated a political university course, or some universal study, which if you could not pass with flying colours you would not be able to vote, something to differentiate the poltically aware from the politically unaware. O
                In my mind he was stuck on governance, someone had to be in charge. But he trusted the system to provide only good governer
                s, knowing all the while those who ran for office were power-hungry tyrants. His conflicts were not obvious in his writing, but they were there all the same.
                That is merely scratching the surface of democracy. But he at least tried in his way to think of a better way.

                Liked by 1 person

  4. the other big problem, and I’m sure you know this, is people who refuse to vote for a candidate if he or she disagrees with them on one thing or if the person is a single issue voter. Yes, there are close-minded people out there and they are just as much of a problem as the ones who just don’t care. I’d actually submit to you that they are worse because, though they understand the importance of making their voices heard, they deliberately decide not to do so simply because their pet issue isn’t one that the candidate supports or they have disagreements with a perspective candidate.
    Imagine how different it would be if these people elected to open their minds and allowed their voices to be heard on election day. No political candidate is perfect and for anyone to expect that it should be that way is delusional at best. We are all flawed humans and though running for political office should open you up to more scrutiny and you should be held to a higher standard of moral conduct than the average person, it does not exempt you from being an imperfect flawed human.
    People just need to stop being single-issue voters, it does exponentially more harm than simply not caring.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Reading this I am appalled that a country that calls itself a democracy suppresses voting rights with all these complex restrictions. Coming from the UK, and having experienced elections in Ireland over the past 14 years, I am used to a relatively simple process and procedure.
    1. The local authority maintians a register of eligible voters which you can check to ensure you are listed. The local authority issues reminders about the need to check.
    2. A few days before the election poll cards are issued, by the local authority, via the postal service. Voters take these with them to the polling station as their form of ID.
    3. Polling stations are set up in schools and/or community halls in every community.
    4. At the polling station voters are manually checked off the register, which will already have been marked up to show those who have already voted by post.
    5. Postal voting is permitted to enable absent voters and those with mobility problems to participate.
    6. Polling takes place from 7am until 10pm.
    It is true that, in the UK at least, a ‘first past the post’ system is in operation meaning that the winning candidate does not have to receive more than 50% of the votes cast. True, too, that some gerrymandering takes place although I believe this is less prevalent than it once was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right to be appalled, as our most people in democracies outside the U.S. Each year, the ways in which voters are disenfranchised increase, and while I’m sure that Democrats have done their share of it, for the past decade or so, it is the Republicans who have attempted to keep Blacks and other minorities, as well as the poor away from the polls. I propose we do what most European countries do and hold elections on Sunday, so that only a few would need to juggle voting with work schedules. And, registration should be made much easier. Far too many polling sites have been closed in lower income and minority neighborhoods, and especially this year, voting by mail has been made difficult in some areas. However, I am encouraged to read this morning that already, nearly 3 weeks before election day, some 15 million people have already voted! That’s about 10% of all registered voters, so there does seem to be enthusiasm out there. Some people even waited in line for as much as 10 hours … I’m sensing that people are beginning to take this more seriously than they usually do. Fingers crossed!

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  6. Jill, I have long been of the mindset that high school should teach how to be responsible adults. The focus should be on managing budgets, using credit wisely, buying insurance, but should also include being responsible voters and help them register. I also think their should half-days off to vote. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • I fully agree with you! I think election day should be on Sunday, as it is in nearly all European nations, and that we should at least look into compulsory voting. But, start early, and as you say, teach young people that it is not only their right, but their responsibility to themselves and future generations.

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      • Jill, the uphill climb here is a certain political party counts on a fewer people voting and has made every effort over time to do so, as is being done now. Prime example is the Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, but my state has had Voter ID laws and gerrymandering made by the GOP in NC ruled unconstitutional. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m glad when anybody broaches this topic of voter turnout and minority voters, while not getting racist. TY

    Perhaps I have a unique perspective as a queer BIPOC on this topic…there are 4 major issues I believe MUST be considered in getting higher voter turnout in minority communities.

    1. The bungled abortion and religion paradigm- abortion is usually framed in a white-centric argument where the extended family is usually left out of the equation. For many cultures, the family (nanna, tia, uncle, etc) is just an important, sometimes “unofficial,” pillar besides the two parents. I think some of it is understandable, as legal considerations usually rest on the mother and father? But it seems to me that there are many minorities who are liberal on many issues with the exception of abortion, and therefore are more likely to be disaffected by contemporary pro-choice arguments and not vote. I think conservatives recognize this and use abortion as one of the few angles available to them in reaching minority communities. If the progressive dream is to increase voter turnout in minority communities, I think they have to adjust to the complexities of abortion in that it sometimes goes beyond the mother and father paradigm, and that many myths about abortion spread like wildfire in minority communities. A similar and often interrelated topic is religion. Anti-religious sentiment often trends in democratic/leftist/progressive circles. I know because I identify as secular humanist/atheist, progressive, liberal (depending on the audience), etc and I see it and experience it all the time. This is another barrier to minority inclusion and it’s a gross mistake.
    2. Does contemporary party politics really appeal to minorities? IF minorities are voting because of fear of the other party, then I don’t think we are at a healthy place to say the system is inclusive to those communities. I don’t think anyone can deny that either political party has as great history with minorities, although the Democratic party seems to have had some monumental shifts on the national stage in the past 20 or so years. Local politics seem to be a different story and it differs so much from place to place. It’s impossible to keep up unless you are a researcher. I think the focus on local politics is just as important as focusing on national politics. Many minority communities are more concerned about their immediate neighborhood than whatever is happening in DC.
    3. Political infrastructure – this goes hand-in-hand to number 2 but I think it is distinct. It’s one thing to have a platform that speaks to multiple audiences (number 2). It’s another thing for a party to have places to speak to people about their platform. The internet doesn’t cut it, especially if we are trying to reenergize local politics. News agencies shouldn’t be surrogates. Running for office or reelection should not be the only times we see political figures be active. We need to make create political infrastructure where people are civically engaged, outside of a chat room and Thanksgiving dinner table, between and during elections. One infrastructure that seems lacking in many communities, especially minority communities, are places where local politicians and other social influencers can meet and discuss issues in-person. There may be some places if you’re lucky, like a University event, a community center, or city hall. But most people don’t have a university, many community centers are run down, and most people don’t live close to their city halls. It’s apparent we don’t put a premium on civic engagement in our own public spaces and where we do have it, is probably underutilized. Bolster civic engagement in our public spaces and it would be on purpose if minority communities are left out.
    4. Complacency – to be just as vigilant and energized no matter who is in office, or likely going to be in office, or how “great” it’s going for your side, etc. I think the Democratic Party can get complacent when things are going their way. They have shown that during Clinton’s administration and during Hillary’s run. Even if Biden wins by a landslide and the Democrats not only capture The Senate but also expand their House majority, they need to be just as vigilant and have the same amount of concern as if Trump is still in office. For Republicans, their complacency is not expanding their tent. I suppose it’s near-impossible to do that if your platform appeals to white nationalism. Minority communities bare the brunt of this carelessness. The race doesn’t end on November 5th. It never ends and that’s okay.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Under Lulu in Brazil, voters were fined for not voting. It’s a great way to get the poor involved with the process. Though, of course, things didn’t work out very well in the end.
    BUT Let’s make #ElectionDayAHoliday! Let’s have #AutomaticVoterRegistration! Let’s simplify it all! And STOP throwing out votes!
    “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” follows the dramatic story of naive, sheltered Shelly going to “The Big Easy” to prepare for El Salvador, but has no idea she will encounter sexism and witness racism as well as illegal activities by government agents.
    https://www.amzn.com/dp/B08KMHNNDK

    Liked by 3 people

    • I fully agree that we should have election day on Sundays and compulsory voting! It seems that in this country, the goal of government is to keep as many as possible away from the polls! Yes, indeed, let’s SIMPLIFY the process, make it a no-brainer! And while we’re at it, let’s take the dark money out of politics and repeal Citizens United! Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

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