EDITORIAL: Can Americans vote with confidence?
New York primary fraught with election legitimacy problems
Too many suspicious things have happened in this year’s presidential election, and we’re just at the primaries. Although November doesn’t seem too far away, it’s going to be a long-drawn, eventful season before the nationwide general election, and right now it’s been mired with egregious problems that challenge the legitimacy of whichever candidate emerges as the winner.
Everyone’s was waiting to see how the polls will turn out in New York while this was written, yet residents of the state who want to exercise their right are finding themselves unable to cast their ballot. The sad part is that New Yorkers aren’t the only ones constrained in their capacity to participate in the fundamental necessity for a democracy — voting.
Whether it’s questionable computer glitches that switched party affiliations or a dubious lack of funds to have enough polling stations, voter suppression is running rampant and happening regularly in the state primaries. If it happens once, then it’s not acceptable, but it’s possible to move on with our lives. If it happens twice, then people can sort of bite their tongue while becoming quite leery. And if it happens any more than that, then the issue needs attention and should be taken as an attack on people’s constitutional rights. It should be taken seriously the first time, but now even more so when it happens audaciously again and again.
There were at least two or three instances when voter suppression or affiliation purging has allegedly occurred, and these episodes are incredulous enough to draw ire from the public. In Arizona, a man filed a lawsuit that challenged the results of his state’s March presidential primaries, considering how difficult it was for people to vote when Maricopa County’s voting sites were cut from 200 to a scant 60 and people had to wait up to five hours on line. In Ohio, Secretary of State Jon Husted (R-Ohio) tried to block 17-year-old voters in the state from participating on election day. While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) filed a lawsuit and won to allow 17-year-old voters to participate in the state’s presidential primary, another lawsuit that was filed wasn’t so successful.
New York’s strict and closed primary has been controversial, and it’s the third possible instance of voter suppression and affiliation purging. Election Justice USA filed an emergency lawsuit on behalf of many New Yorkers who saw their party affiliation mysteriously switch, and are seeking to open the state’s closed primary. Moreover, New York had the earliest change-of-party deadline in the country, six months before this week’s state primary. Many voters missed the deadline, but some who thought they successfully registered had their paperwork lost in the mail and are disenfranchised as a result. A judge denied the request, and delayed a hearing on an emergency lawsuit that could’ve given 3.2 million independents the ability to vote.
When you’re an ordinary person, it’s already hard to follow politics when you have a million other things in your life to juggle. People work tough jobs and don’t always have the time to read up on current events and candidates’ political platforms. And in the instance when you’re one of the few who are politically engaged enough to want to vote, then suddenly you have to face these incredibly unfair barriers.
The populace is already disillusioned with the current political system, and it’s caused the surge of two populist candidates: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. They say that the government in its current state is corrupt, and it appears that instances of voter suppression and affiliation purging reinforces that that idea.
Although trust in government is already quite low, taking away citizens’ right to vote will ensure that the level trust in government gets even lower and to the point when people will say this is no longer a democracy.
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