Block the Vote: Eleven of America’s Worst Places to Cast a Ballot

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Two months ahead of major elections, and four years after the passage of the Help America Vote Act — which was designed in part to eliminate, nationally, the kind incompetence and outright criminality that marred the 2000 election — the machinery of US democracy still leaves much to be desired. As Sasha Abramsky notes in the current issue of Mother Jones, the chances that your vote will count, the ease with which you can cast your ballot, even your odds of getting on a voter roll, greatly vary according to where you live.

As it turns out, except for a rudimentary federal framework (which determines the voting age, channels money to states and counties, and enforces protections for minorities and the disabled), U.S. elections are shaped by a dizzying mélange of inconsistently enforced laws, conflicting court rulings, local traditions, various technology choices, and partisan trickery.

Among the more striking regional discrepancies:

  • In some places voters fill in paper ballots; in others they vote with ancient machines; in still others they use state-of-the-art touch-screen technology
  • Some states encourage voter registration, others make it a hassle
  • Some states allow prisoners to cast a ballot, others don’t allow even ex-felons tovote

The piece offers a partial–but sadly emblematic– list of “American democracy’s more glaring weak spots.”

Read it here…and weep.

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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