It is no secret that the two major parties in the U.S have actively worked to rig the election system for their own benefit and so they can drown out any independent voices. I was reminded of this fact earlier this year when the Florida legislature was unable to come up with a new district map after the previous one was found to be illegal. Inspired by my home state, I want to shed light on a few other obstacles the parties put in front of our democracy. Things like...
Gerrymandering. It used to be that the voters would pick their representatives; but nowadays the representatives pick their voters. As we saw in Florida, some districts are drawn with purely partisan motivations so that if a candidate wins the primary they essentially win the seat. Florida is not an isolated case and there are districts around the country that are so irrationally drawn (just look at this image of IL-4) that it would be comical if it didn’t have such dire consequences.
Ballot Access laws are another way that the parties try to make elections uncompetitive. For example, in Pennsylvania the law requires a party to have a membership of 15% of the state's registered voting population before the party can appear on the ballot. Just for reference, if this law was a standard practice in every state there would be no Republican Party in Massachusetts and no Democratic Party in Idaho. To see more ridiculous ballot access laws, check out this list published by Fairvote.org.
Voter Disenfranchisement is an umbrella term to reference legislation that prevents people from voting. Some examples of this are laws that prevent felons from having their rights restored after they have served their time and Voter ID requirements. These particular laws have origins from the Jim Crow era and disproportionately affect African-Americans today. In the 2014 election, it is estimated that these laws prevented 1 in 13 voting age African-Americans from participating in the democratic process.
The common thread among all of these obstacles is that they were enacted by the major parties to keep themselves in power and maintain the status quo. The truth is, none of this will change until we rise up and show the powers that be that we are sick of the partisan games and we demand leaders that work outside the wishes of the party bosses. You can help build this movement by sharing this information with your network and encouraging your friends to become members. Together we can bring some sanity back to Washington.
Editor's note: This article, written by Dane Sherrets, originally published on The Centrist Project's blog and has been slightly modified for publication on IVN.