Taking Voting Rights Seriously: Race and the Integrity of Democracy in America
17 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2014
Date Written: 2007
This article demonstrates that secure and reliable elections are easily achievable in the United States - if those with economic and political power so desired. Given the costs implicit in continued clouds of legitimacy over those currently governing this nation, one would therefore expect strong and decisive action to remedy once and for all race-based electioneering games and faulty voting machinery. The thesis of this article, however, is that this is very unlikely to occur; rather, those with power seem to be exercising an option to use race instrumentally to foil the democratic process and to enhance their electoral interests. Of course, if this thesis is correct, not only does it mean that prospectively no effective voting reform will occur, it also means that there is additional reason to question the legitimacy of these past, tainted elections. Part I of this article will review the problems with the elections of 2000 and 2004 with a view towards highlighting the primary barriers inherent in the current matrix of election regulation and law that prevents the will of the people from being manifest in election outcomes. Part II will review the major reform - Help America Vote Act - that has occurred thus far as a result of these controversies, and will show that this reform is not effective to address the root problems plaguing our democracy. Part Ill of this article seeks to explain why effective reform did not occur in the wake of the elections of 2000 and 2004, through the use of interest convergence theory and its emphasis on the power of race in America to serve the needs of those with political and economic power. The article concludes that real election reform is not likely to occur because elites find it in their interest to retain the status quo - including the ability to use race instrumentally to manipulate elections.
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