Sanders Calls Michigan Voter Disenfranchisement an "Outrage"

Updated on April 23, 2020
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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He has been published in the Boston Globe and the Baltimore Sun.

Hundreds of students and residents wait in line to register and to vote outside of Ann Arbor City Hall Tuesday afternoon.
Hundreds of students and residents wait in line to register and to vote outside of Ann Arbor City Hall Tuesday afternoon.

In a virtual replay of the Democratic presidential primary in 2016, Bernie Sanders fumed at long voter lines in his key constituencies, even causing voters to drop out, as an "outrage." But as in 2016, the campaign has declined to take legal action to at least in part remedy the lost rights.

The Hill reported that Sanders said in a statement:

"At a time when Democrats correctly attack Republicans for voter suppression, it is disappointing to see people standing in long lines for hours today waiting to vote in Michigan and around the country. People should not have to miss a day of work to exercise their right to vote. This is an outrage,"

The Hill reported that Sanders was facing a "must-win contest" in Michigan.

The Detroit Free Press reported:

"There was a long line to register to vote at the East Lansing City Clerk’s Office at about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The line snaked all through the building and it was almost entirely students from MSU who said they were waiting to vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont."

People with disabilities were another group of voters whom the Free Press reported waiting in long lines or unable vote in what they considered to be a reasonable period of time.

In Arizona in 2016, Sanders called up to seven-hour lines in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, one-half of the state's population, a "disgrace."

In California and Texas on the March 3rd Super Tuesday, long lines forced some to abandon the attempt due to work, school, or family responsibilities, and others to not even attempt to vote. (See: "Super Tuesday Biden Victories Questioned by Election Watchers")

On March 6, 2020, USA Today reported:

"In Houston, voters who got in line at Texas Southern University, a historically black institution in a neighborhood of color, before the 7 p.m. deadline had to wait for hours to vote — many of them well past midnight, which means they were voting a day late. Some news accounts described the wait as nearly a full work shift."

Nevertheless, Sanders has sworn to strongly support, and campaign for, whoever is the nominee for president.

The New York Times has openly raised the possibility that the problems were specifically aimed at suppressing the Sanders vote, its Editorial Board writing in "Why Did It Take so Long to Vote in Texas and California?":

"On a day when most voting went smoothly, the two largest states in the Super Tuesday elections, California and Texas, struggled with hours-long lines in some major cities and complaints from some voting-rights groups that officials were seeking to reduce turnout for political reasons."

Newsweek reported on the day after Super Tuesday:

"Hours-long voting lines in parts of Texas led to significant frustration on Super Tuesday, with some suggesting that "voter suppression" was at play, particularly as the problems seemed to affect minority and student communities."

Court-ordered remedies to excessive lines could include additional voting days in precincts declared to have offered substandard service.

Last week in an interview in Amy Goodman's Democracy Now, "Long Lines, Closed Polling Stations Hurt Black, Latinx & Student Voters in TX, CA," election expert Ari Berman observed:

"...in places like Dallas and Houston and San Antonio, that’s where you saw disproportionate lines. They were not the same lines in wealthy white neighborhoods that there were in black and Latino and neighborhoods where a lot of young people voted."

In other election news relating to Texas, WFAA ABC News 8 reports that Dallas County has reported 44 thumb drives representing 10% of the county's votes were discovered uncounted. Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are the cities which were considered Sander's strongest regions, along with El Paso.

And in California, as of latest reports, millions of "provisional" ballots remain to be counted, leaving the delegate count undecided, although the media continues to amplify the narrative that Biden is already all but the winner of the Democratic nomination.

Thus far the Sanders campaign could not be reached for comment. Sanders' campaign manager is Faiz Shakir @fshakir.

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