News Release

Whose Vote Counts?

Boone is a professor of political science at Clark Atlanta University. He said today: “In this election cycle many problems remain unresolved — and many of those problems disproportionately impact African-American and Hispanic communities. One major problem is the confusing patchwork of rules and regulations governing the restoration of voting rights of ex-felons. In some states this is not possible at all, causing permanent disenfranchisement. In others, there is a convoluted process that would allow for restoration, but an affirmative attempt is not made by officials to inform or help the ex-felon navigate this road. Also, another major problem is the patchwork of registration systems and the continuing practice of purging of voter rolls. In some states, voters are dropped from rolls if they do not vote for a few election cycles — something that may happen especially if the voter finds no candidate worth supporting. Many people will never hear that they’ve been dropped from the rolls — and will find themselves unable to vote on election day. Provisional ballots will not help such people, either, because those are meant to help people who are registered; these people will appear as if they are unregistered.”

Harris-Lacewell is a professor at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago. She said today: “The electoral college is the single most effective disenfranchising mechanism in the American political system. … Entire groups of voters become effectively disenfranchised simply because they live near large groups of people who are very different from them. For example, African-Americans are concentrated in states that are safely in the Republican column. The parties, candidates, and platforms do not have to respond to their interests. The electoral college makes black votes largely irrelevant to presidential politics. …. All of the states in which the African-American population exceeds 25 percent are safely in with the Republican column, with the exception of Maryland. This means that neither Democrats nor Republicans need to worry about the black vote, because it is captured and silenced by the solidly Republican South where most African-Americans still live. … By the same logic, deeply conservative Republicans living in bright red states can also be safely ignored, as can the most progressive Democrats of the deep blue states.”

She added: “[However,] not everyone in the safe states is silenced. While the candidates focus on the 21 swing states, the party fundraisers have cultivated the other 29 states. Plenty of big name Democrats and Republicans make their way to safe states like New York, California, Alabama, and Illinois. But they don’t come to hold town hall meetings, to advertise their candidate’s position, or to listen to the concerns of people in the state. They come to attend intimate and expense fundraising events. Money from safe states spends very well in swing states. The wealthy, elite partisans of safe states can still have their concerns addressed, but the ordinary, loyal partisan voters are ignored.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167