The real vote fraud

November 8, 2016

With Election 2016 finally lurching to an end, writers collaborate on a guide to what to look for on Election Day and in the days to come. Here, Elizabeth Schulte argues that the system is rigged--but Donald Trump is a beneficiary.

This evening, be sure to follow SW's live coverage as the results roll in during Election Night, at our Facebook page or on the Election Night journal.

DONALD TRUMP is telling supporters that he's up against a "rigged system" that could steal the election victory that naturally must belong to him, since he's a "winner."

But that rigged system has worked out awfully well for Donald Trump. He inherited the family fortune from swindling working-class people out of their money through rent and real estate, and he continued to game the system and the laws for fun and profit all his adult life.

As for the rest of population--the people who turn out to vote in in the hope of making their voices heard in this "democracy"--the system is far more likely to be rigged against them than Trump.

First, let's take the millions of people who are legally disenfranchised this Election Day, as for every one in the past.

There are currently some 1.6 million people in state and federal prisons, all of them, save those in Vermont and Maine, are barred from voting in elections. Some 700,000 people are in jail awaiting trial and can legally vote, but don't because they don't know they can or don't have access to the basic tools to do so, like absentee ballots.

African Americans lined up to vote in Philadelphia in 2008

According to the Sentencing Project, more than 6 million American citizens who have been in prison in the past, "paid their debt to society" as the saying used to go, and been released also can't vote because of state laws barring them from doing so.

As you would expect, the number of people who can't vote due to felony disenfranchisement is up since more and more people--a vastly disproportionate number of them African American--have come under the jurisdiction of the criminal injustice system. Some 1.17 million people were disenfranchised in 1976, 3.34 million in 1996, and 5.85 million in 2010. The disenfranchisement rate for Black voters is four times greater than for non-Blacks.

Then there are the people who live in one of 32 states where some type of Voter ID law is in effect, enforcing new requirements, such as possessing a photo ID, in order to vote.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gutting Section 5 of the 1965 Voter Rights Act, which requires that states with a history of racial discrimination, specifically in the South, get approval from the Justice Department before they implement any changes in election laws. Attorneys for the lawsuit, representing mostly white Shelby County in Alabama, argued that the restrictions were "out of date."

On Election Day, we'll see just how "out of date" the laws protecting the right to vote are.

According to Ari Berman writing in the Nation, in the Southern states once scrutinized by the federal government under the Voting Rights Act, there are 868 fewer polling places in 2016 than in 2012 and 2014.

Add to this all the people who will face flawed, antiquated or understaffed systems where they go to vote--which makes it incredibly difficult for people to vote, or for their vote to be counted. Even before Election Day, there were reports of thousands of people waiting in long lines for early voting in Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Raleigh and cities across the country.

When Donald Trump claims that the vote is "rigged," he's got the victims all wrong. A significant part of the U.S. population, more likely than not to be Black or Latino, is disenfranchised by systematic and perfectly legal election fraud.

The attempt to blame the victims for fraud that rarely if ever is documented is outright racism, only slightly coded--and it has a long tradition among the right in the U.S. that supports voter ID laws and shutting down organizations like ACORN that register people.

There's a reason people feel like the system is rigged, though not in the way Trump claims. Because the "world's greatest democracy" routinely takes democracy away from millions of people every Election Day.

Further Reading

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