I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday and I’ve seen a few tweets buzzing around it. They touched on the topic of how people talk about elections. Even more-engaged folks don’t necessarily pay attention to the low background hum. The literal and figurative mechanical underpinning of American democracy is, at best, lacking and, at worst, broken. Despite that, the day after the election, the news cycle goes back to the horse race – “who won, who lost”.
That might sound hyperbolic, but it’s a very real problem. The software that voting machines use are often insecure – and this has been known for years. Even without external actors, the tech is out-of-date and dysfunctional. That’s assuming that your centre has enough power cables to make sure they can run the machines. That’s just the tech side of it – we’re not talking about systemic suppression efforts against marginalised groups (like North Dakotan Native Americans) or ruthless gerrymandering.
We need to change how this is discussed. It can’t be a fleeting concern – it is too late to fix on election day.
This might seem like a ‘wonk-y’ concern. Firstly, it is hard to imagine these problems occurring in a ‘politics-free’ fashion (who is most impacted? Which areas are given outdated trash? Why aren’t these issues being tackled?). Secondly, leaving aside any partisan affilitations, voter manipulation hollows out any faith people may, or potentially should, have in democracy.
I want this to be a topic to share updates and have discussion from across the U.S. around access to elections in a macro sense. I think this discussion needs to include gerrymandering (and other kinds of political fixing), the mechanics of voting, and voter suppression. What’s the problem? What are the solutions? What is to be done?