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Religious Tolerance logo

Politics in the U.S.

The craziness of the U.S. 2016 election season:

2016-NOV: State voter suppression.
A book about voter suppression.

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Part 8 of fifteen parts

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This topic is continued here from the previous essay

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election 2016

About voter suppression:

The election in 2016 was the first that lacked the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. Some states took advantage of this lack of protection for voters by implementing voter suppression laws. These governments systematically analyzed which groups of the public do not vote Republican. Then, they set up barriers to make it more difficult for those adults to vote. They made voting identification laws more difficult to meet, reduced the opportunity to vote early, closed polling stations, and set up other barriers to voter registration.

Ari Berman, writing in The Nation, said:

  • "In 2014, a study by Rice University and the University of Houston of Texas’s 23rd Congressional District found that 12.8 percent of registered voters who didn’t vote in the election cited lack of required photo ID as a reason they didn’t cast a ballot, even though only 2.7 percent of registered voters actually lacked an acceptable ID. Texas’s strict voter-ID law blocked some voters from the polls while having an ever larger deterrent effect on others. Eighty percent of these voters were Latino and strongly preferred Democratic candidates. ..."

  •  "On Election Day, there were [a total of] 868 fewer polling places in states with a long history of voting discrimination, like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina. ..."

  • "In North Carolina ... black turnout decreased 16 percent during the first week of early voting because 'in 40 heavily black counties, there were 158 fewer early polling places'. ..."

  • "Even if these restrictions had no impact on which candidates were elected, it’s fundamentally immoral to keep people from voting in a democracy." 1

Rob Wile, writing for Fusion, reported on a study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. They determined that the wait time to vote varied greatly by race:

  • African Americans: 23 minutes
  • Latinos: 19 minutes
  • Asian Americans: 15 minutes
  • Native Americans: 13 minutes
  • Whites: 12 minutes. 2

Wile wrote:

"Whatever their origin, the effects of longer poll lines are huge. The Center estimates that long lines deterred at least 730,000 Americans from voting in November 2012. That works out to about 14,000 voters deterred per state. Voting lines also cost Americans $544 million in lost productivity and wages, creating a kind of feedback loop for voters of color, who are often less able to sacrifice their wages therefore stay away from polling places." 2

The numbers for the 2016 election may have been larger than for 2012.

The Brennan Center for Justice has prepared a map of the U.S. showing which states placed voting restrictions in place for the first time in time for the 2016 presidential election. They are: Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island. South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. 3 Almost all have their state government under Republican control.

With the bias injected into the voting system by the Electoral College, it is necessary for a successful Democratic candidate for President to have a strong majority of voters favoring them. In the year 2000 election, Al Gore received over a half million votes more than George W. Bush did, but this was insufficient to make Gore president. In the year 2016 election, Hillary Clinton received about 630,000 more votes than Donald Trump, but this was also insufficient to make her president. 4,5

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A book that discusses voter suppression:

book cover Richard Hasen, "The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown," Yale University Press (2012). Available in Kindle and Hardcover. Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store customers have given the book an average rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars.

Richard L. Hasen is Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California, Irvine School of Law.

Some editorial reviews of this book published on

  • "This is a Stephen King novel for election junkies.  No one has a better eye for the next big thing in election law than Rick Hasen.  The Voting Wars provides an engaging, highly readable guide to the thrill ride we call election season."—Heather Gerken, author of The Democracy Index:  Why Our Election System is Failing and How to Fix It

  • "One of the most disturbing recent US political developments is the rapid growth of election administration litigation.  Professor Hasen has masterfully described this trend, showing how political parties seek to gain advantage through election recounts, voter id laws, absentee ballot procedures, and the like. Scholars, journalists and interested citizens will benefit from Hasen's insightful overview of this struggle and the potential for even more election related controversy and litigation in the future.”—Bruce Cain, Heller Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley  

  • "Just in time for the election, Rick Hasen brings this essential reminder of all the lessons never learned after Bush v. Gore. If we don't course-correct our partisan voting systems and ever more partisan efforts to remedy them, Hasen reminds us that we are looking into the face of a democratic disaster."—Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Legal Correspondent, Slate magazine.

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Ari Berman, " The GOP’s Attack on Voting Rights Was the Most Under-Covered Story of 2016, The Nation, 2016-NOV-09, at:
  2. Rob Wile, "Black people wait twice as long to vote as white people, a new study finds," Fusion, 2915-AUG-11, at:
  3. Kevin Matthews, "Black Americans wait twice as long to vote as Whites," Truth-out, 2016-SEP-01, at:
  4. Andrew Cohen, "No One in America Should Have to Wait 7 Hours to Vote," 2012-NOV-05, at:
  5. "New Voting Restrictions in Place for 2016 Presidential Election," Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law, 2016-SEP-12, at:

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > Religiously-motivated conflicts > Specific religious conflict event > 2016 U.S. election

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Copyright © 2016 & 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2016-NOV-14.
Latest update : 2017-JAN-17.
Author: B.A. Robinson

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