The Great Confusion of the Electoral Code

It took numerous counts before proclaiming the victory of George W. Bush in 2000 over his Democratic rival Al Gore. This was a mess which left its mark. And the presidential election of Nov. 8 looks much worse. According to The Economist, the peculiarity of the American electoral system is to leave the decision to each state to promulgate its own rules. This, the weekly magazine fears, risks introducing numerous appeals before the courts. Thus certain regulations are perceived as discriminatory in apparently aiming to reduce the participation of minorities. Since a 2013 decision of the United States Supreme Court, many states have rewritten their electoral code without having to obtain, as before, a green light from the Department of Justice or from the courts. In the Southern states’ assemblies, Republicans have transformed the laws in their favor with a limitation on early voting: a practice popular with Democratic voters and less so with Republicans. In Texas, student identification cards are not authorized. But a weapons permit can serve as identification. Of course, the authors of these laws protest their good faith and point out that it is only a question of aligning the electoral codes with the other states, for example, those who have already limited the early vote.

Moreover, certain Democratic constituencies were territorially redistricted in the Democrats’ favor. But the worst, according to The Economist, is pretending that it is not necessary for the electoral system to be too simple in order to the voters to be intelligent enough to understand it and thus to choose their government. In all cases, it is necessary that the courts accelerate the appeals procedures before the elections to avoid great confusion after Nov. 8.

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