Poor people are discouraged from voting

GEORGE E. CURRY | 5/2/2016, 10:55 a.m.
Bernie Sanders on Sunday tried to attribute most of his losses to Hillary Clinton – his recent string of victories ...
George Curry

(EmergeNewsOnline.com) – Bernie Sanders on Sunday tried to attribute most of his losses to Hillary Clinton – his recent string of victories notwithstanding – to poor people not voting.

“Poor people don’t vote,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I mean, that’s just a fact. That’s a sad reality of American society.”

What’s a fact is that when poor people do vote, they are not voting for Bernie Sanders.

As The Washington Post observed, “Sanders has lost Democratic voters with household incomes below $50,000 by 55 percent to 44 percent to Clinton across primaries where network exit polls have been conducted.”

He lost to Clinton 21 percent among voters bringing in more than $100,000 a year and by 9 points among middle-income voters, according to the newspaper.

So if more poor people were voting, if the current trends hold true, Clinton would be beating Sanders by an even larger margin.

There is no doubt that poor people are far less likely to vote than more affluent citizens. According to the Census Bureau, 47 percent of eligible adults with family incomes of less than $20,000 annually voted in 2012. By contrast, approximately 80 percent of those in families earning $100,000 or more a year voted in 2012. Similar patterns also held true to voter registration.

Sanders said on Meet the Press, “If we can significantly increase voter turnout so that low-income people and working people and young people participated in the political process, if we got a voter turnout of 75 percent, this country would be radically transformed.”

Sanders failed to address why poor people are less likely to vote.

A study for Caltech and MIT reported that people generally failed to vote for a variety of reasons, including dissatisfaction with the choice of candidates, other obligations, transportation problems and registration issues.

Under the headline, “Why Are the Poor and Minorities Less Likely to Vote?,” an article in Atlantic magazine noted, “While income and education levels were not recorded in the survey, race and age were major factors influencing who made it to the polls on Election Day and what kind of barriers they faced. Black and Hispanic citizens, for whom the poverty rate is close to three times that of whites, were three times as likely as whites to not have the requisite I.D. and to have difficulty finding the correct polling place. They were more than three times as likely as whites to not receive a requested absentee ballots, and roughly twice as likely to be out of town on Election Day or to have to wait in long lines.

“They were also substantially more likely than whites to report transportation problems and bad time and location as reasons for not getting to the polls, while white voters were the most likely to cite disapproval of candidate choices. Taken together, the surveys suggest that white citizens who abstain from voting do so primarily by choice, while the majority of minority non-voters face problems along the way.”

And the problems faced along the way are considerable.