Up against the corporate government, voters find themselves asked to choose between look-alike candidates from two parties vying to see who takes the marching orders from their campaign paymasters and their future employers. The money of vested interest nullifies genuine voter choice and trust.
When I lived in Ireland, I never had any trouble voting there. Initially, you registered (an easy process) and then a week or so before the election you were sent a card telling you when and where to vote—which also served to identify you. You then turned up with the card, were given a ballot paper, and voted. Queuing was minimal and I was normally in and out in ten minutes or so. If you forgot your card, you merely had to identify yourself and be checked off a list. It was totally straightforward and fast.
Given that background, I am completely baffled by the voting processes that are all too common in the U.S. Why aren’t they illegal? Why aren’t there national rules to rein in these flagrant abuses of “the democratic process?
I have never received a satisfactory answer. Americans just seem to accept this kind of criminality—even though it skews the electorate in favor of the Republicans (and yes, I know the Democrats have made great use of gerrymandering in the past). My point is not party, but the corruption of process. It would, as they say, from where I come from (which is Ireland) “make a bishop weep.”
The following story is from THINKPROGRESS It left me incredulous—in the fullest sense of the word.
During the 2012 presidential election, voters reportedly waited on line for upwards of six hours. That wait alone is enough to deter would-be voters from going to the polls. But now residents in Florida’s most populous county will have another disincentive: they won’t be able to go to the bathroom.
Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department quietly implemented a policy to close the bathrooms at all polling facilities, according to disability rights lawyer Marc Dubin. Dubin said the policy change was in “direct response” to an inquiry to the Elections Department about whether they had assessed accessibility of polling place bathrooms to those with disabilities.
“I was expecting them to say either yes we have or yes we will,” Dubin said.
Instead, he received a written response announcing that the county would close all restrooms at polling places “to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not treated unfairly,” a January email stated. “[T]he Department’s policy is not to permit access to restrooms at polling sites on election days,” Assistant County Attorney Shanika Graves said in a Feb. 14 email. Elections Department officials did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress inquiries.
Dubin said he was “shocked” at this response, and not just because it suppresses the vote for everybody. The Americans with Disabilities Act also requires entities to make “reasonable accommodations” to those with disabilities. For those with a number of conditions, including diabetics and those taking diuretics, closing the restroom will make standing in that line impossible, and thus discriminate against disabled voters.
But those with disabilities are not the only ones who would suffer disproportionately from this policy. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis found that blacks and Hispanics waited almost twice as long to vote as whites in the 2012 presidential election. Another analysis found that this “time tax” also impacted young voters. And this would be one of a number Florida voter suppression policies that have a particular impact on the elderly.