Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Microstory 1337: Voter Suppression

Political Journalist: Is it okay if I record this conversation?
Vote Suppressor: By all means, Ive nothing to hide.
Political Journalist: Please state your name in full.
Vote Suppressor: My name is State Election Administrator, but my enemies just call me Vote Suppressor. Hahaha.
Political Journalist: And is that an accurate description for you? Do you suppress votes?
Vote Suppressor: Look, I get a lot of grief, but everyone is looking at this all wrong. Let me paint you a picture—a hypothetical, so you understand my position—but this is, in no way, an admission of guilt. Before I do that, though, I want to point out that I’ve never said that I don’t do what people say I do, but you have to remember that my detractors have yet to prove that what I do is illegal, or even unethical.
Political Journalist: Okay...
Vote Suppressor: So. A long time ago, voting was simple. You went to your closest polling location, wrote down your vote, and sent it off. All the votes would be counted, and the candidate with the most votes would win.
Political Journalist: I don’t think it was ever really like that, but as long as you’re only saying it for illustrative purposes, I will allow you to proceed.
Vote Suppressor: Okay, so. People noticed that this was a bad way of doing things. The polling locations, while logical on paper, weren’t representative of the respective populations. I mean, your closest location might be just on the other side of a river, but that location should be reserved for people who live on that side, because there is something different about them. I don’t know what that difference is, because again, this is just hypothetical. To combat this problem, we drew up borders. We said, these people over here see life through this lens, while those people there see it through another. I have this problem with the anti-border extremist movement, because they’re looking at it the wrong way. They see borders as a means to separate, when really, they unite us. They bring together everyone on one side of that border, so they can operate as one, and lift each other up. See, me? I ain’t got no problem with Mexico. But we ain’t Mexican, so we shouldn’t be cross-pollinating, because we’re just too different.
Political Journalist: First of all, many would just call your position racist or xenophobic. Separate but equal has been the motto for racial inequality starting all the way back in the 19th century. Second of all, you have your history mixed up. Borders did not come before voting. They arise simultaneously, as the need presents itself. 
Vote Suppressor: Okay, okay, fine. But my point stands. All I’m doing is drawing up borders according to unique regional perspectives. If that’s racist, I’m not the racist one, because I didn’t tell certain people to live in certain places. If black people choose to live in the same neighborhood, I can’t stop them.
Political Journalist: But that’s not what border manipulation is. What you’re talking about is drawing lines between neighborhoods, but what you’ve been accused of is drawing unreasonable lines to combine distant neighborhoods so that some districts carry more weight than others. And those districts with the most power always seem to be composed of the wealthy, white neighborhoods, who also somehow generally vote for your political party.
Vote Suppressor: Look, I’ll say this. I’m in charge of managing our districts, right? Well. I couldn’t do that until I was elected, right? Which means I couldn’t have been elected using whatever changes to the districts I made. I can’t go back in time. Can you go back in time? I can’t go back in time.
Political Journalist: No one is suggesting that you invented district manipulation, Mr. Suppressor. They’re saying that it is a long-running systemic problem, in which you are presently involved.
Vote Suppressor: Well, I don’t think there’s anything I can do to convince them otherwise.
Political Journalist: That’s what I’m here for, sir. I’m trying to give you a platform to explain yourself.
Vote Suppressor: And I appreciate it. But, oh, it seems I have another meeting. Thank you so much for your time. I’m looking forward to reading the article, I really am.

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