Lucia Graves on the US electoral system:
Bernie Sanders said something he wasn’t supposed to say: that poor people don’t vote.
The impolitic remark came in response to a question about why the candidate had been losing so much in the places he should have been winning (he’s lost 16 of the 17 states with the highest levels of income inequality). The most straightforward thing for him to say would be to acknowledge that he hasn’t performed well with minority voters who tend to be less affluent. But he didn’t want to say that on television. Instead, he decided to talk about something else that’s actually more important than where he, personally, is up or down.
He said: “Poor people don’t vote. I mean, that’s just a fact. That’s a sad reality of American society” .
‘That’s a fact’. Really? Well it would seem that it is…
Fact-checkers immediately aimed to set the record straight only to discover that Sanders claim was “mostly true” or even, looked at comprehensively, totally correct.
But why don’t they vote? Any clues?
Barriers to voting like long wait lines and strict voter ID laws contribute to the effect, as does the potential for the increased use of provisional ballots among minorities.
Long waiting lines? Hmmm, why might that be a problem for poor people, but not for rich people (who are often described as ‘time poor’)?
Strict voter ID laws? Hmm, why might that be a problem for the poor? Does it cost money to get voter ID in the States?
As Danielle C Belton explained in The Root, it is those who most need representation that are denied it.
“The reason politicians ignore so many of the working poor is that they don’t vote,” she writes. “And the reason so many of the working poor don’t vote is that certain politicians have made sure it’s as inconvenient as possible for them.”
It doesn’t seem – assuming that there’s no cost involved in getting voter ID – that there’s anything denying voter representation to them except their own lack of get up and go.
Maybe that’s also why they are poor?