The land of the free where all citizens aren’t equal (ODT)
Fort Worth is suffering a crisis of democracy – just 6% of electors voted in the last midterms – so why is it aggressively pursuing those who mistakenly cast ballots?
Crystal Mason, who is facing five years in Texas prisons because she mistakenly cast a provisional ballot when she was not allowed to do so.
Crystal Mason, who is facing five years in Texas prisons because she mistakenly cast a provisional ballot when she was not allowed to do so. Photograph: Ed Pilkington for the Guardian
When Crystal Mason appears in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas, this week she has been warned by her lawyers to be prepared for the worst. Pack a bag, they told her, talk to your children, be ready to go to prison.
As the clock ticks down to her court hearing on 30 August, she finds herself unable to take that advice. “No, I’m not prepared! I can’t go to prison. I’m not leaving my kids,” she said.
Mason, a 43-year-old mother of three, has been sentenced to five years in Texas state penitentiary – with extra time pending in federal lock-up. All because she committed the crime of voting.
On 8 November 2016, as the world waited with bated breath for the outcome of the Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton election, she walked to her local Fort Worth polling station to perform her civic duty as a US citizen. To her surprise, her name wasn’t registered on the voting rolls, so she cast a provisional ballot pending further checks.
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In the small print of the form it read: “I understand that it is a felony of the 2nd degree to vote in an election for which I know I am not eligible.” She didn’t read those words, focused as she was on correctly entering her personal details.
Two things stood out during the by-elections. Firstly the importance they made of the constant flow of polls, and secondly, the “Kill Bill” campaigns.
Murdoch news continued to push them as though they were God’s gift to determining the winner – and they didn’t.
Again, despite having run the same course many times the “Kill Bill” campaign by Newscorp and others, yet again fell flat because Australians don’t like “playing the man.” The naming of Bill Shorten as a liar every day by the PM doesn’t cut with a lot of people, and he would be well advised to stop.
The importance of reporting factually what was said, or the truth or otherwise of it, seemed to take second place to whatever controversy could be manufactured.
The media do it because they like to think they alone have the power to elect governments, forgetting that it is the public that votes them in or out.
Finding the truth and reporting it should be more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more.
But Newscorp has started its pre-election propaganda in earnest. Not even the failure to influence will stop them.
So the average punter would be well aware of the many national issues that the country faces. The first question they might ask is:
The change from a print-based to an image-based society has transformed our nation. All the traditional tools of democracies—including dispassionate scientific and historical truth, facts, news and rational debate—are useless instruments in a world that lacks the capacity to use them.
The state requires IDs to vote, but it’s closing DMVs in largely-black counties.