Ghost Voter - Specific Methods - Electorate Manipulation - Disenfranchisement


The composition of an electorate may also be altered by disenfranchising some types of people, rendering them unable to vote. In some cases, this may be done at a legislative level, for example by passing a law banning prison inmates (or even former prison inmates), recent immigrants or members of a particular ethnic or religious group from voting, or by instituting a literacy or other test which members of some groups are more likely to fail. Since this is done by lawmakers, it cannot be election fraud, but may subvert the purposes of democracy. This is especially so if members of the disenfranchised group were particularly likely to vote a certain way.

In some cases voters may be invalidly disenfranchised, which is true electoral fraud. For example a legitimate voter may be 'accidentally' removed from the electoral roll, making it difficult or impossible for them to vote. Corrupt election officials may misuse voting regulations such as a literacy test or requirement for proof of identity or address in such a way as to make it difficult or impossible for their targets to cast a vote. If such practices discriminate against a religious or ethnic group, they may so distort the political process that the political order becomes grossly unrepresentative, as in the post-Reconstruction or Jim Crow era until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Groups may also be disenfranchised by rules which make it impractical or impossible for them to cast a vote. For example, requiring people to vote within their electorate may disenfranchise serving military personnel, prison inmates, students, hospital patients or anyone else who cannot return to their homes. Polling can be set for inconvenient days such as midweek or on Holy Days (example: Sabbath or other holy days of a religious group whose teachings determine that voting is a prohibited on such a day) in order to make voting difficult for those studying or working away from home. Communities may also be effectively disenfranchised if polling places are not provided within reasonable proximity (rural communities are especially vulnerable to this) or situated in areas perceived by some voters as unsafe.

A particular example of this strategy is the Canadian federal election of 1917, where the Union government passed the Military Voters Act and the Wartime Elections Act. The Military Voters Act permitted any active military personnel to vote by party only and allow that party to decide in which electoral district to place that vote. It also enfranchised women who were directly related or married to an active soldier. These groups were widely assumed to be disproportionately in favor of the Union government, as that party was campaigning in favor of conscription. The Wartime Elections Act, conversely, disenfranchised particular ethnic groups assumed to be disproportionately in favor of the opposition Liberal Party.

In 2012, 10 American states passed laws requiring photo ID at the ballot box, citing protection against electoral fraud. However, a study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School found that minorities, the poor and the elderly are less likely to have photo ID, and that such groups lived long distances from ID-issuing offices. Additionally, partisan politics has been exposed as a major factor in the introduction of voter ID legislation.

Read more about this topic:  Ghost Voter, Specific Methods, Electorate Manipulation

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