Comments such as these are not just coming from conspiracy theorists or anti-establishment groups. These comments are being made by your average run-of-the-mill Americans such as housewives, college students, business owners, teachers, etc. who have lost faith in the American election process. Studies show that they are not alone in their opinions, but why?
A recently published Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey (1) finds that nearly half of all Americans polled feel as though the current election process is rigged and unfair.
The study determined that 48% of Americans who participated in the survey stated that the election process was unfair. This percentage was well above those who thought it was fair, which came in at 39%.
Of those polled, 68% believe the process is in favor of the incumbent. And probably the most disturbing finding is the fact that only 19% of participants feel that the federal government truly has the consent of the ones they govern while 83% of the Americans surveyed felt as though Congressman listen to party leaders over the voters they were elected to represent. Leaving the question to be asked, why do so many Americans think US elections are rigged?
Is There Evidence?
The answer is because the evidence of a rigged and/or slanted election process can be easily found by opening just about any US newspaper or website.
For example, earlier this month news broke that South Carolina actually passed a bill (HB 589) that will make it more difficult for younger voters to participate in the election process.
The law basically targeted programs designed to boost youth voter registration. South Carolina is not alone. Twenty-two states in all have passed some sort of voter restriction law that targets some facet of the voting populous; usually young voters or minorities.
Yet, proponents of the laws passed in South Carolina and other states contend that these laws are not being implemented to slant the election in the favor of the incumbent, but to battle the rampant voter fraud that is occurring in most elections across the country. Many elections, once investigated see a number of double votes or dead voters casting their ballots.
Nevertheless, the idea of elections favoring the incumbent does carry a certain amount of weight if we look at past elections. According to The Hill (3), during the 2012 elections, incumbents had an election success rate that has not been seen since the 1970s.
During the 2012 elections 90% of House members and 91% of senators were successful in their bid for re-election. However, the 2012 elections were not just an isolated case. The Hill goes on to state, “At least three-quarters of incumbents seeking reelection have retained their seats in every election since 1982.”
Regaining America’s Faith
There is no doubt that a large number of Americans have lost faith in the country’s election process.
If we look back at the last four decades of elections, history seems to show that elections do tend to favor the incumbent.
However, it is important to ask if that is just the natural dynamic of the election process lending itself to a better the devil you know than the devil you don’t mindset.
Or, is there something more to it than that? Is it that once our politicians get elected, they make it a point to pass laws that would benefit themselves in future elections?
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