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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Why Poor Americans Don't Vote

Many years ago, Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven wrote a great book - Why Americans Don't Vote; they cited an array of customs and byelaws across the US, especially in the deep South, that made it very difficult if not impossible for the poor and minorities to register. the 1960s put paid to a load of those aspects of petty apartheid.

But we live in a time of political and ideological decay as the power of big money screams, unions have lost power and alternatives have been organised out of politics, and the main parties - almost identical in terms of philosophy and corporate funding and a militarist mindset - dominate the corporate media.

 And the cycle of excluding the poor and minorities from the franchise continues to deepen... see below for examples.

New voting rules threaten to lower turnout


An illustration of President Lincoln at GOP headquarters in South Bend, Ind. Contemporary voting restrictions, critics say, are threatening the post-Civil War concept of universal suffrage.
E. Tammy Kim

Fear of voter fraud and two rulings by the Supreme Court — Crawford v. Marion County in 2008 and Shelby v. Holder in 2013 — have resulted in an unprecedented array of rules and restrictions across the U.S.
This election cycle, 21 states have new voting laws on the books. From registration to the ballot box, critics say, these statutes have made it difficult to vote, particularly for minorities, the poor, students and seniors.
There are already reports of voters being turned away from the polls. In early voting, a Houston, Texas judge reported having to deny a 93-year-old veteran with an expired driver's license. On election day, hundreds of Georgia residents complained of having to pay for parking at voting sites and were unable access registration and polling-place information due to computer problems. In Hartford, Connecticut, a judge issued an emergency ruling extending the hours at two polling places that had lost access to voter registration data. And an African American student in Texas was sent away from her voting location due to non-compliant ID.
Al Jazeera America has documented the travails of low-income voters in Indiana (see here and here) and the campaign launched by North Carolina racial justice groups against a name-checking program that threatens to wipe thousands of voters from the rolls. Stay with us as we continue to document voter turnout and voters turned away.

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