The Illusion of Choice

The Illusion of Choice

Rachel CohenTuesday,19 April 2016

This election, man. What a show! With all of the yelling, puffing, showboating, and spectacle, it’s easy to forget just how important this process is – and how broken it is.

Everrrrrrrrryone is tired of the two-party system. For the first time in, well, quite some time, both sides of the aisle are fronting two distinctly different candidates almost giving the illusion of a choice!

Except that because the candidates within each party represent different aspects of said party, this election is in many ways being decided by the primaries. Everyone is watching closely, and it’s no wonder things are getting heated between each party’s candidates.

The New York primary is this Tuesday, April 19th. Will Trump take Manhattan? Is Hillary going to win with 110% of the vote? All eyes are waiting to see what happens.

Except for the 43% of American voters who are independents, who won’t be participating in any closed primaries. Which means 3 million people in New York alone will be sitting out this Tuesday.

The problem? The deadline to switch party affiliation in New York was October. That means voters in this state needed to decide who they would vote for six months ago in order to cast a vote this week.

This is not okay.

First of all, the deadline was October 9th, and THE FIRST DEMOCRATIC DEBATE WAS HELD ON OCTOBER 13TH. That means that voters needed to commit to voting to a party before even seeing the candidates together on stage.

What is even crazier? The filing deadline for candidates for New York’s primary was February 4, 2016. That means voters needed to be affiliated and decided while there could still be other candidates joining the race.

New Yorkers aren’t taking this lightly. At least 200 voters are filing a suit the day before the primary after discovering that their previous party affiliations were now erroneously changed to independent. There are petitions left and right calling for an open primary, giving a voice to the millions of people who hadn’t made their choice in October.

And why not? Why give the illusion of choice, but then rip it away? Why pretend at all that all Americans have a vote, but only so long as they sign up for a party before having all of the information? Ostensibly, the idea is to protect against the other party “flooding” the vote, but this can easily be safeguarded against in the same way it is in the generals – by allowing voters to choose to vote for one party, but not forcing them to do so six months in advance. One vote, one person. If voters decide to give up their own voice in order to “stick it” to the other side, well, good luck for them.

If the people want to take back America, it’s time to start by taking back our right to vote.

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Image Credit: Daniel Lobo on Flickr

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