In the Deep South, voting has never been a simple prospect. Whether we talk about the Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787, which counted 60% of slaves for Congressional representation, or the one-party “Solid South,” too many anti-democratic schemes have stood in the way of one-man, one-vote. Sadly, however, since the 1965 Voting Rights Act forbade the old ways, new methods have arisen to disfranchise voters, because it is well-understood in the Deep South: voter turnout changes the outcomes of elections.
For the midterms coming up next week, it appears that more voters than usual will be coming to the polls. NPR reported earlier this month that voter turnout is expected to hit a fifty-year high— possibly nearing a still-pitiful 50% for the first time since 1970. Last weekend, Chuck Todd’s “Data Download” segment on Meet the Press also shared statistics that point to significantly higher turnout in 2018.
According to one Wall Street Journal article from September, which provided state-by-state rankings for the most recent elections in 2016 and 2014, the states of the Deep South usually hover around 40% turnout for the midterms:
48. Tennessee (50.8% in 2016, 33.6% in 2014)
42. Alabama (57.4% in 2016, 42.5% in 2014)
36. Georgia (60.2% in 2016, 43.2%in 2014)
29. Louisiana (60.6% in 2016, 50.2% in 2014)
28. South Carolina (62.1% in 2016, 42.4% in 2014)
8. North Carolina (67.5% in 2016, 46.2% in 2014)
7. Mississippi (67.7% in 2016, 42.3% in 2014)
I believe that can be — and should be — higher. We need more than three or four out of ten people in our region casting a ballot if our representation is going to reflect our electorate.
I want to keep it short-and-sweet in this week’s column, and relay one simple message: please vote on November 6.
“Dirty Boots: A Column of Critical Thinking, Border Crossing, and Noblesse Oblige” posts will be published regularly on Tuesday afternoons.
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