If you didn’t vote-

First things first oh shut up*.

Second, let’s talk about voting in the United States. If you want to know about how voting works you need to know how many people vote and how that number is serviced and how much infrastructure can handle them. In the United States, there are fifty states (see, I paid attention in school), with the most populous being California and Texas. California has 38 million people, Texas has 26 million. Australia has 23 million people. And before you start complaining that I’m comparing a country to a state, those states are individually responsible for managing the voting of their population, so both these units represent a legal voting coordinator.

Now, a bunch of those folk aren’t going to vote in America, because America is like that. Voter turnout in midterm years is about 40% – so, of those 38 million Californians and 26 million Texans, there are about 15 and 10 million respectively that go out and vote. Out of the 23 million Australians, about 22.77 million vote**.

In the United States, if you just happen to be a little bit, let’s say not white, you face poll times about twice as long as white folk do. If you happen to be voting in a poor or urban area, you will face poll times longer than the folk in wealthy areas. In fact, you can wind up facing queue times of five to seven hours.

Then there’s this added bonus, where thanks to the way the US electoral system is structured where your vote is inherently worth less than the votes of other states, and bonus, your vote might be completely worthless, because even if your candidate received more votes, they might lose anyway.

In Australia, we have election results the same day. I’ve never waited more than ten minutes in a queue, even though I’ve taken up to half an hour to vote. We use a form of voting with instant runoff, explained here:

Australia is fifty times larger than California. Australia has more people vote. It still uses paper voting. And we get our election results the same day and we get them without hours of queue time and we get more fair representation of the people who are doing the electing. You cannot tell me the US system is acceptable. You cannot.

So no. No, you do not have to vote to be fucking angry about the system in the United States. You do not have to vote to complain about this bullshit. This is beta model democracy at best, it’s literal vote fixing at its worst and it’s utter bullshit. And this is without even getting started on the Electoral College!

It’s also basically unfixable because the people who can fix this system are the people benefiting from it.


* This is to say, stop saying ‘if you didn’t vote, you’ve nobody else to blame’ to people, it isn’t helpful and doesn’t address the massive structural problems voting has in the United States.

** Voting is compulsory.

 

One comment

  1. Courtney

    Some additional things:

    – Elections are on Tuesday, which for most people, is a work day.

    – The laws requiring employers to allow workers time off for voting vary by state, and most of those laws only provide for 2-3 hours of time for voting. Many of those laws do not require that the time off be paid–only that the employee must be allowed to go and can’t be penalized for taking the time. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/taking-time-off-voting-jury-29708.html

    – Standard polling times are 7 AM to 7 PM. Some states have early voting or absentee voting for anyone who wants it, but not all of them do. And since early voting tends to be used mostly for demographics that tend to vote Democrat, the Republican state legislatures have been actively trying to roll back any gains in early voting regulations.

    – The actual date is squirrely. Yes, it’s a Tuesday, it moves. The actual date is “the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November,” which means it could be either the first OR second Tuesday of the month, any date from Nov 2-8. People trying to suppress the vote take advantage of the inevitable confusion by distributing messages saying that voting day is on the wrong date.

    – Most of the electronic voting machines do NOT generate any kind of paper record showing how you voted. It’s all in the (highly hackable) data. Oh, and of course the codes are trade secrets and can’t be revealed.

    – I could go on for days, but suddenly I need to cry and hit something while vomiting.

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