“Jim Crow of the 21st Century”?

By Marshall Wong

Earlier in March, Joe Biden, along with the majority of the Democratic senators, relentlessly bashed the sweeping election bills that restricted the voters accessibility to ballots––Biden himself even called them “the Jim Crow of the 21st century”. Specifically, the bill entails new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, limits [to] the use of ballot drop boxes, the criminalization of approaching voters in line to give food or water and giving state officials more power over local elections. Essentially, Biden argued that by setting barriers to absentee votes, which is historically predominantly a Democrat policy, the Republican party is directly benefiting. In fact, under 26 percent of Democrats said they planned to vote in person on Election Day, in contrast to 56 percent of Republicans.

However, little does Biden know that in his home state Delaware, along with Connecticut and New York, early mailing is heavily restricted. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, said last week that his state already offers more early voting days than Delaware, New York, and Connecticut.  Indeed, if a Delaware citizen wished to mail-in their ballots, they would be mandated to provide a “valid reason” to why they couldn’t make a two-hour drive to a nearby ballot center such as Wilmington. Unsurprisingly, most of the in-person ballots stations are located in the city-center or urban areas, all predominantly Democratic areas. Such restrictions are likely going to restrict the attendance of sub-urban and country-side counties, the base of many Republican voters. Moreover, Delaware only offers a 10 day window for voters to cast early ballots, a huge discrepancy compared to the 15-day minimum window congressional Democrats have proposed in their voting-rights legislation.

Delaware is, sadly, not an anomaly–– Connecticut has no early voting whatsoever, and New York’s onerous rules force voters to change their registration months in advance if they want to participate in a party primary. Even more drastically, in Rhode Island, the state requires voters to get the signatures of not one, but two witnesses when casting an absentee ballot, making the process longer than it reasonably should be. As a result of these restrictions, Delaware, Connecticut, and New York rank in the bottom third of states in their access to early and mail-in balloting.

With all the newly implemented voting laws, mostly to restrict accessibility of early-ballots,  I begin to wonder whether the election system in the United States is as free and democratic as it is advertised? 


Work cited:

Berman, Russell. “The Blue States That Make It Hardest To Vote”. The Atlantic, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/04/democrats-voting-rights-contradiction/618599/. Accessed 16 Apr 2021.

“Huge Absentee Vote In Key States Favors Democrats So Far”. Nytimes.Com, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/10/us/politics/early-voting-swing-states.html. Accessed 16 Apr 2021.

“Republicans, Defending Voting Restrictions, Point Finger At Blue States With Laws They Say Are Worse”. NBC News, 2021, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/republicans-defending-voting-restrictions-point-finger-blue-states-laws-they-n1263205. Accessed 16 Apr 2021.