Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Listen to the Nonvoters: An Open Letter to the Media

I am sending this to a number of my favorite media sources. I encourage you to share this verbatim with attribution, or to write your own letter with mine as a model.

I’m writing to ask for more coverage of the Americans who did not vote in the presidential election in November. Trump voters have gotten a lot of media attention, and rightly so, but their voices are disproportionately amplified. 42% of eligible voters did not cast a vote (fivethirtyeight.com). This proportion has become typical, and it’s a serious problem in American democracy.

This year saw new restrictions in many states, ostensibly to prevent voter fraud. How do people caught in red tape feel about the election? How do people who never vote feel? To understand our political climate, your audience needs to hear their stories.

We need coverage of people who were prevented from voting by legal or illegal, intentional or unintentional means. People whose registrations were rejected. People who were turned away at their polling places. People who worked a double shift on election day and weren't allowed to or couldn't afford to take the time off. People whose kid was sick and who couldn't find childcare. People whose wheelchairs wouldn't fit in the door of their polling place. People whose rides fell through. People whose absentee ballot never came.

We need coverage of people who were discouraged from voting. People whose polling place was too far for the amount of time they had, by the modes of transit they could take. People who felt sick at the thought of lost wages even if they could technically afford the time off. People who saw friends try and fail to register to vote. People who saw family turned away at their polling places. People with chronic pain who were told that the elevator at their polling place was only for people who “need" it. People who didn't want to walk in the door because there were police officers watching from across the street and the police in their town don't have a record of serving and protecting. People who didn't know if they could bring their kid. People who have voted before but couldn't this year, people who have never voted but wanted to this time.

It is clear these people exist. There was some coverage of these issues shortly after the election, mostly in small and alternative media, but not enough focus was on the people. As a reader, a customer, and a citizen, I ask you to find these people and interview them. Their stories shape America as much as any voters' do.

2 comments:

  1. This is a crucial perspective. I hope that the media listens. I will forward where I can.

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    1. Thank you for forwarding. Please feel free to add your own comments when you do.

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