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Voting, one of the most important aspects of the United States democracy, allows for citizens to voice their opinions and have representation in government decisions, but unfortunately there is a lack of people showing up to the polls. According to the United States Census Bureau (2017), 61.4 percent of citizens reported voting in the 2016 election. This means that 38.

6 percent of people in this country did not voice themselves in decisions that will affect things such as their education, healthcare, and homeland security. The purpose of a democracy is that everyone gets to voice their opinions and have representation but when such a high percentage of people are not voting, this diminishes the purpose of what the United States stands for. It is important to understand what factors may contribute to the voting disparity in the United States in order to form solutions. Through discriminatory voting restriction and voter ID laws targeting people of color, the low percentage of low socioeconomic class voters and the difficulty felons have in voting, the electoral process does not allow for representation of all citizens in the United States. Racial prejudice against people of color has been a relevant topic all throughout United States history and has found its way into the electoral voting process.

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The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law in order to “overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution”(“Voting Rights Act of 1965”, 2009). This act made it so that the federal government had to protect voting rights for African Americans, but a recent Supreme Court Case has diminished the role of the act.

The Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder ruled in 2013 that “states and counties that had previously been required to receive federal approval for changes to voting laws under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) could now alter their voting laws without federal supervision” (Harvard Law Review, 2015, pg.1). This means that states now have the power to enact more restrictive voting laws without having the federal government checking fairness. Since the removal of section 5 of the VRA, one of the biggest voting scandals was in North Carolina, when legislators started breaking down their voting statistics, by race, to find ways to specifically lower the minority vote. Legislators made voting photo ID requirements more strict and eliminated the first week of early voting, same-day registration, and pre-registration- all to diminish African American voting presence (Quillin, 2018). These obvious account of discrimination did not go unnoticed.

The Supreme Court recognized the acts of discrimination and prevented the law from taking place for Election Day (Quillin, 2018). Since states now have the ability to enact restrictive voting laws against African Americans, the U.S.

electoral process does not allow for fair representation of all people.Another reason the electoral process has failed to give representation to all in the United States is due to the lack of voting among those with lower socioeconomic statuses A 2012 report from the Census Bureau states that less than half of the people who make under $20,000 voted that year, but over 70% of people who live in households with incomes of more than 75,000 voted. The higher percentage of people voting with higher incomes shows a flaw in the voting electoral process. One reason could be that the cost of a voter ID is between $5 and $58.80, according to the U.

S. Accountability Office (GAO, 2014). Paying for a voter ID adds a barrier for those financially unstable to vote and restricts low-income people from having a voice. Since voters are required to find transportation to voting facilities or even miss work hours, this further restricts low income people from voting.

8.5 percent of voters making less than $20,00 did not vote in the 2016 elections due to being “too busy” or facing “transportation problems” (GAO, 2014). Missing work hours or having to pay for gas or public transportation in order to get to voting polls is something that many who make little income are not capable of doing because of their financial stance. These voting limitations for low-income citizens ultimately limit their voice in government decisions, showing that electoral voting does not provide representation for all people in the United States.

Although strict voter ID laws have been proven to be detrimental to people of color and lower-income people, many believe that it is necessary in order to prevent voter fraud. In 2012, “about 1.8 million dead registered voters and 2.75 million voters registered in more than one state or a cross-check involving Virginia and 21 other states that found 17,000 voters registered in three or more states”(Voter fraud: Deniers’ disservice., 2016).  Although these numbers may be true it is ridiculous to put in place strict voter ID laws considering that there have been only 31 allegations of voter fraud since 2000, out of the one billion people who have voted (The Real Election Fraud, 2016, pg.3).

Instead of focusing on potential voter fraud and putting in place strict ID laws to prevent it, the federal government should instead focus on the limitations it has had on people’s ability to vote.Voting restrictions on past felons also shows how the U.S.

electoral process has not done a fair job in allowing representation of all people. In America “ten states disenfranchise felons for life, thirty-five states prevent parolees from voting, and twenty-nine states forbid voting by persons on probation for a felony conviction”(Fortunato & Stephen, 2002, pg, 1). The Sentencing Project, a national non-profit organization engaged in research and social justice and criminal issues, states that in 2016 a record number of 6.

1 million people in America could not vote because of felony disenfranchisement, or other felony related restrictive law. Not allowing people to vote, even after they have completed their sentence, diminishes their civil purpose in society. Permitting ex-felons the right to vote has been a great accomplishment of Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, who restored voting rights to 206,000 ex-felons and believes that no matter their past with the law people “who work, raise families and pay taxes in every corner of our commonwealth” should get the right to vote. (Connolly, 2016). The implications for how we define our democracy is huge, and in order for all people to be represented, more voting rights should be given to ex-felons.

Despite the many issues with the United States electoral voting process, including the racial prejudice against people of color, lack of voting among low-income citizens and past felons restrictions on voting, there are solutions for making voting numbers increase. One solution to solving the issue of people not being able to vote due to work obligations is that elections could be held on a weekend. Countries including Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, and Italy hold elections on the weekend and most of them have higher voter turnout rates than the U.S.

(Desilver, 2017). Linda Stover, Bernalillo County clerk and voting rights activist, proposed the idea that communities should give out free bus passes on election day for those who request one (Nathanson, 2016). This would allow for an increase in voting accessibility but a limitation would be the cost of being able to provide transportation for people. If these solutions were to be implemented, the electoral voting system of the United States would be able to hear the voices of more citizens and the electoral process would give representation to more people in the United States.

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