We left off two weeks ago talking about gerrymandering. I demonstrated how a non-majority group could be distributed to have the majority in groupings. This is exactly what your state legislature does when he/she draws redistricting lines. They obviously gerrymander for the favor of their political party, by targeting either people who voted for a given party, or demographics. An example of this is Florida’s 5th congressional district. This district is considered one of the most heavily gerrymandered districts in the country. The district contains 47.69% black people which is 31% more than Florida’s general demographic. This shows that someone crammed as many black people in this district as they could in order to suppress the black vote.
I do not know who exactly is the most significant victim of gerrymandering, but I do know that votes are undervalued by it. Gerrymandering isn’t the only undemocratic aspect of our voting system. Another way our voting system suppresses votes is with the two party voting system. Imagine a new bakery opened up in your town. You’re super excited about this bakery because you love cupcakes, and having a spot where you can go and get your cupcakes close to home means so much to you. Once the store opens you go there for your cupcake and you find out that the bakery doesn’t even sell cupcakes, all they sell is pies and cakes. Are you going to settle for a pie or cake? Absolutely not, so you don’t buy anything. This is the problem that many voters in America face when entering the voting box or even following the election.
42% of the country identify themselves as independents, this is the larger than both the republican or democratic base. The problem isn’t that there isn’t a singular party designed to represent independents. Independents simply don’t identify as republican or democratic, there’s still a lot in between those two political parties. However, our system still makes it incredibly difficult for any independent to have a successful campaign.
The voting system in this country isn’t doesn’t appear to be dysfunctional, it appears to systematically suppress the ballot. Are we contributing to a system of oppression by voting? By speaking are we silencing others or silencing ourselves? This is the paradox. The voting in this country undervalues millions of ballots every presidential election and even more every minor and state election. This systematic oppression is also very malleable. Even if you are not in the silenced group the next time congress draws redistricting lines, your vote might be the one that is silenced.