The loophole in American democracy

America has prided itself on its fair and free democracy, but only a minority of people seem to know the truth behind this facade.

Democracy lets the power reside in the people, and it equalizes the people by giving everyone the right to vote.  America is the land of the free and home of the brave.  The place of equality and the right to pursue happiness.  Here in America, people can choose who represents them in government, the citizens hold the power.  We shame other countries without democracy, our pride and joy.  However, our democracy is clouded with lies and loopholes.  Our elections may be neither free nor fair.  

Money’s role in politics has been talked about for years, but the conversation has taken off with the 2016 presidential election.  Citizens have become more aware about the influence of money in politics with businessman Donald Trump’s announcement to run in the election and with Bernie Sanders basing his campaign on removing money from politics.  Although people know that money influences government, they don’t necessarily know how.  

Fundraising for the 2016 presidential campaign has surpassed $1 billion, according to the USA Today analysis on Campaign Finance Institute.  That is over double the amount of the 2012 election, which was $402.7 million.  Half of this money comes from Super PACs, which uses money from corporations to support campaigns.  Candidates benefit from Super PACs because a candidate can only accept up to $2,700 from an individual, but the amount of money they can accept from a Super PAC is unlimited.  Although it is illegal for candidates to let Super PACs affect what they stand for, it still happens.

Not only are there Super PACs, but there are also superdelegates and the Electoral College.  Superdelegates only play a role in the Democratic party; they are an unelected delegate who is free to support any candidate for the presidential nomination.

 Superdelegates explain why Hillary Clinton, who has 1,632 delegates, has such a lead over Bernie Sanders, who has 1,299 delegates.  Out of Clinton’s delegates, she has claimed 519 superdelegates, whereas Sanders only has thirty nine.  Superdelegates can change their vote at any time, but as of now, Clinton is in the lead.  However, it is only due to people with more power than the average American citizens voting for which candidate they want.  

The Electoral College is a group of people representing the U.S. States, who formally cast their votes for the election of the president and vice president.  The amount of electors allowed per state is equal to the number of members in its Congressional delegation, one for each member in the House of Representatives and two for the Senators.  Although each state is represented in the Electoral College, it still creates a loophole in democracy.

The Electoral College creates the possibility that the loser of the popular vote can still win the electoral vote.  This has only happened in 7% of the elections, but it still shows that although American citizens can vote, their popular vote can eventually be overridden by people with more power than them.  Some critics of the Electoral College believe that it suppresses voter turnout.  If all of the states have electoral votes, there may be no incentive to encourage voting by individual citizens.

Elections are also shown to be unfair through voter suppression.  Voter suppression is a set of tactics with the goal of stopping people from voting.  In 2013, an important section of the Voting Rights Act was removed by the Supreme Court, allowing jurisdictions with long histories of voter discrimination to make changes to their voting rules without federal approval.  The negative effect of this was seen in Arizona’s primary in March with the number of polling places being cut by 70%.  Government officials say that it was to save money, but it left people waiting in lines for up to five hours, which left many people unable to vote in time.  Some voters arrived to the polls to find out that their party registration had been switched, voiding their vote, and others found out that their voting registration had completely disappeared.

Voter suppression has also occurred through voter ID laws that require people to show their government issued photo ID.  However, 11% of American citizens do not have one, which is over twenty million people, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.  Officials claim that these laws are needed to prevent voter fraud, but this is very rare.  In the 2012 election, there were only ten cases of voter fraud.  With 146 million voters registered at the time, that accounts for only one out of every fifteen million voters.  Voter ID laws actually end up hurting minorities, low income citizens, the elderly, and students, preventing people from being able to participate in their promised democratic freedom.  

The American citizens must use their power to fix the government corruption.  Money in politics needs to be regulated and the American citizens need to know which companies and billionaires are “buying” their candidates.  Voter ID Laws have to be reformed so citizens can have a fair vote.  America must be brought back to what it was originally founded on democracy: with fair and free elections.