(UR) Even in the most legitimate ways, it is no surprise that elections are tightly tied to money. From the very moment a candidate announces their desire to run for an elected position, their campaign bid requires a considerable amount of funding if they are going to make a solid show of it.
There are, however, other ways that money influences the democratic process that may be more important than campaign contributions and funding — namely, voter turnout.
When asked to explain his losses in 16 key states, democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders explained that, simply, “poor people don’t vote.” According to Sanders, his losses in these races are representative of the importance of the wealth gap, given that the states in question are among those with drastic income inequalities. This is a particularly important issue to the Vermont Senator, who has worked throughout his campaign to increase youth, working class, and poor engagement with the democratic system.
Even with Sanders’ desire to work with marginalized groups, there is a fundamental reality that concerns minority populations and the working poor: disenfranchisement. For the majority of the marginalized, the precariat, there is a prevailing feeling of disassociation with American democracy. This leaves many asking why they should vote when they feel their votes change nothing.
Unfortunately, feeling hopeless in the face of government is not the only thing keeping precariat voters away from the polls.
During the 2012 presidential election, poor neighbourhoods experienced technical difficulties that wealthy neighbourhoods did not — not to mention a variety of other roadblocks and organizational issues that limited their access to the election. Add to that the reality that less money equates less advocacy and representation, and it is no wonder the poor feel disconnected to a point where voting does not always feel worth it.
For a democracy to function properly, the population of that democracy needs equal access to the mechanisms of democracy. Increasing access in high population areas, as well as providing functioning equipment on Election Day, may indeed help increase voter turnout in precariat neighbourhoods.
Unfortunately, while removing these logistic barriers may not eliminate the disconnect most poor and minority groups feel about representation, it will potentially increase turnout to a point where the precariat has enough access to elect politicians they feel arerepresentative. And that, Sanders says, can “radically transform this country.”
This article (Even the Actual Voting Booths Are Rigged Against the Poor) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Chris “Kikila” Perrin and UndergroundReporter.org. If you spot a typo, please email the error and the name of the article to firstname.lastname@example.org. Image credit: Flickr/DonkeyHotey