Voting Is Nothing Special (and It Shouldn’t Be)

Long lines to vote early in Ohio in 2012.

Long lines to vote early in Ohio in 2012 (via chrisgold on flickr).

A version of this post originally appeared at Common Dreams.

Political rhetoric in the U.S. is often characterized by sickly sweet appeals to democracy. Voting is held up as the foundation of democracy, or as the most useful or necessary method of political participation or expression. Judging by that rhetoric, and by the image of the U.S. that is exported around the world, one would think that the U.S. would be able to execute the actual practice of voting well.

But the disenfranchisement that routinely happens — to those convicted of crimes, those without IDs, those that need to work, those that can’t find childcare, those that can’t travel, etc. — together with the voter suppression that happened recently in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and Wisconsin, suggest that voting in the U.S. is undemocratic and limited as a means for political participation. The reality is many people are directly and indirectly prevented from casting a vote, and much of the time that disenfranchisement is purposeful.

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