Over the past few days, the field of declared 2016 presidential candidates has picked up a few more names, each announcement quickly detailed and closely analyzed. Does getting bounced from her seat running Hewlett-Packard, and conducting a solitary and abysmal U.S. Senate campaign, make Carly Fiorina a serious contender? What about Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and TV host who already failed in his first bite at the presidential apple? Is former neurosurgeon Ben Carson in over his head? For those who follow politics like a spectator sport, these incremental news items are tidbits to be savored. For most of the rest of the country, they are tedious and irrelevant developments in an endless cycle of campaigning. But to the New York Review of Books’ Elizabeth Drew, the campaign minutiae distract from the more important story of the “three dangers” threatening the American electoral system: “voting restrictions, redistricting, and loose rules on large amounts of money being spent to influence voters. In recent years, we’ve been moving further and further away from a truly democratic election system.”
In the first of a planned two-part essay, Drew dives into the background of Republican efforts to restrict voting in various states, their successful cornering of state elections, and the effects that has had, and will continue to have, on redistricting. The electoral system has been gamed before our very eyes, but because it has happened slowly, it seems to have gone largely ignored by political reporters focusing on the daily churn (to which I also must plead guilty as a former political campaign reporter). The fix has been put in with the help of the Supreme Court, which gutted the Voting Rights Act and has endorsed voter-ID laws that are, at best, a solution to an imaginary problem.