Politics and civics

How the Presidential election is rigged: voter suppression

Voter suppression looks like this in 13 states: no early voting AND no no-excuse absentee voting. Strict voter ID laws and reduced polling locations combine to produce measurable voter suppression in states representing 271 electoral votes. That’s one more than needed to win.

For voters in 13 states, voter suppression looks like this: no early voting AND no no-excuse absentee voting. This “rigs” (privileges) the election towards those who hold white collar jobs where it’s easy to come in late or leave early on Tuesday. It disenfranchises voters working hourly wage jobs who have little or zero power over setting their schedules.

And which states are these? From the National Conference of State Legislatures (red states were slave states in 1858) and their electoral college votes (total: 138):

  1. Alabama (9)
  2. Connecticut (7)
  3. Delaware (3)
  4. Kentucky (8)
  5. Michigan (16)
  6. Mississippi (6)
  7. Missouri (10)
  8. New Hampshire (4)
  9. New York (29)
  10. Pennsylvania (20)
  11. Rhode Island (4)
  12. South Carolina (9)
  13. Virginia (13)

In addition, there are new (since the last presidential election) voting restrictions in at least 16 states, ranging from “strict photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions.”

Requiring every voter to show up at the polls on election day does not scale in metropolitan areas or any where polling stations have been cut.


Credit: The Great Poll Closure, November 2016, an initiative of The Leadership Conference Education Fund.
Credit: The Great Poll Closure, November 2016, an initiative of The Leadership
Conference Education Fund.

These states overlap with the above list (red states were slave states or slave territories in 1858).

  1. Alabama (9)
  2. Arizona (11)
  3. Indiana (11)
  4. Kansas (6)
  5. Louisiana (8)
  6. Mississippi (6)
  7. Nebraska (5)
  8. New Hampshire (4)
  9. North Carolina (15)
  10. Ohio (18)
  11. Rhode Island (4)
  12. South Carolina (9)
  13. Tennessee (11)
  14. Texas (38)
  15. Virginia (13)
  16. Wisconsin (10)


North Carolina was particularly brazen in its justification for rolling back early voting.


Total electoral college votes affected by voter suppression: 271

Needed to win: 270

Take a peek at early voting lines as harbinger for Tuesday

Just because a state has “early voting” does NOT mean that voting is for the faint of  heart or pressed for time. These lines are also a form of voter suppression.





See state-by-state documentation of voting lines at Storify.


Know this: if you are in line before the polls close, you have the right to vote!

That’s the law, Donald Trump rants not withstanding.

Vote by mail: it should be the law of the land

Three states have implemented 100% vote-by-mail, with voting centers for those needing help with ballots: Oregon (2000), Washington (2011), and Colorado (2013).




Ballot drop boxes are secure. Here’s one in King County (WA). And yes, you can still share your civic life with your children!


States with no-excuse absentee voting already have de facto vote-by-mail systems (unless all absentee voting has to be done in-person). Vote-by-mail systems are secure; voter signatures are certified by trained staff rather than volunteers; and paper ballots provide an easy-to-follow trail should recounts be necessary.

And they extend the franchise to all.


My heart goes out to all of you in those 13 states.


It’s long past time to modernize our voting system.

Vote by mail should be the practice – if not the law – of the land.



Featured image: Brennan Center, 2013
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By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

9 replies on “How the Presidential election is rigged: voter suppression”

“Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader–the barbarians enter Rome.”
– RAH, maybe mid-1980s? Lifting from maybe Tytler, similar thoughts from deTocqueville, et al

You, my friend, are a pessimist. :-)

I’m far more worried about the parasites masquerading as producers — they do grave harm, both financial (see WallStreet et al this century and last) and corporeal (see war profiteers). Also psychic harm (see Trump’s whitewashing of hate).

We are, however, sorely missing civics education — perhaps with more than a modicum of intent-to-retain-status-quo.

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