Taking Voting Rights Seriously: Race and the Integrity of Democracy in America
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In the end, democratic theory rests upon notions of market efficiency. Elections, like markets, involve the expression of preferences by numerous participants in the hope that collective judgments are a superior means of choosing policies, and ultimately laws, that will best serve the common weal. Yet, like markets, elections can yield distorted outcomes if the fundamental mechanisms of democracy are distorted. In the United States today democracy suffers from manifold distortions. Among these distortions are the role of money in our democracy, the ability of those who govern to manipulate the governed (even to the point of representatives selecting voters through gerrymandering), and flawed media. This article will focus on a more basic and more disturbing distortion-the reluctance of the governing to assure that votes are tabulated in a fair and non-partisan way. It is difficult to imagine a more fundamental breakdown of democracy. This article will show that this foundational flaw plagues American democracy today and seeks to explain why this persists in spite of a history of expansionary democracy. The article concludes that it is likely the outcome of increased inequality in America combined with the impact of racial stigma.