past tense of dis·en·fran·chise (Verb)
If you are deprived of your right to vote - you have been disenfranchised.
If you are deprived of power, made powerless, or marginalized - you have been disenfranchised.
These are, more or less, uses of the dictionary definition of the word.
In the U.S. in 2012, and moving forward to the next round in 2014, the concept of disenfranchisement needs to be expanded and the forces and trends toward increasing disenfranchisement need to be mitigated and rolled back. This can only happen through maintained awareness, vigilance, education and action.
ELECTIONS ARE NOT JUST EVERY FOUR YEARS - MID TERM ELECTIONS ARE CRITICALLY IMPORTANT AS WELL AS THOSE FOR STATE AND LOCAL OFFICES... DO NOT GO TO SLEEP ON THIS. Elections often happen every year and even if it's a school budget or a vote to fill some open spot on your town council, a sheriff or local judiciary, they all matter. One can argue that state and local elections matter more so pay attention and participate.
VOTER ACCESS and VOTER ID
It should be obvious by now that the various efforts to reduce voter fraud are going to have an impact on future elections. There have been very few documented instances of actual voter fraud in this county in recent history but under the guise of preventing such fraud many legitimate voters have been purged from the roles and many states are implementing rules for voter identification that will require many people to acquire specific forms of state approved ID that they do not now have. Don't assume you have the correct ID. Find out what the rules are in your state and take the time, now that we have gotten through the 2012 cycle, to get what you need to have in hand when you go to the vote next time. The courts managed to stop some of these last minute impositions of voter ID rules from going in to force this time. Now everyone knows and has enough advance notice that the courts can't use the lack of notice as a means to impose injunctions on implementing voter ID laws next time.
Make sure you are currently registered to vote. Many tens of thousands of voters were purged from voter lists because they may have changed addresses or were in the military and deployed overseas or they had the same or a name similar to someone who has supposedly lost their right to vote. It appears that these purges were targeted to specific areas with concentrations of people who tend to vote toward the Democratic Party but no matter how it cuts, no matter your party preference, the end result is that there is no certainty that, just because you have voted in many prior elections with no problems, all is well. You may have been at the same address for thirty years but if you have a name similar to someone who has committed a felony in a state were felons loose their right to vote (only a few states actually have this rule), or for other reasons unknown, your name could have been dropped. If you have moved and have not updated your registration then you should, as soon as possible. Rather than taking everything for granted it might be a good idea to check and confirm for yourself. Your rights do not always come to you automatically. Sometimes you have to stand up and do something.
INFORMATION, MIS-INFORMATION, BULLSHIT and LIES
When people are fed a constant stream of misinformation, propaganda, whipped up outrage, and other manipulations how can they make a real decision? How can anyone make an important decision with few or no facts? Somehow this disenfranchises EVERYONE, but we need to cut through this. In general those who are expressing the most outrage and anger are trafficking only in passion and emotion, and should be held suspect as far as real facts are concerned, and those who are calm and provide reasoned argument, provide verifiable sources, unedited and with context... those people might be considered as better sources for facts. Just because you don't like the facts coming from these sources you should not assume they are not facts... and it should also be said that some very passionate people should not automatically be considered un-factual. Simply speaking, all information presented as fact should be questioned and verified if possible (a big if these days). This lack of trust and inability to clearly define objective facts, genuine causes, and real effects, from those made up just to push people around and generate a continual state of mindless outrage, is a genuinely knotty problem so... put some effort into calmly untying or cutting that knot. Don't take other people's words and ditto them. Your trusted sources may not be so trust-worthy. Try to get through to the genuine unaltered source and the full context... because a partial true fact can often be as untrue as whole made-up one.
TWO MORE THINGS
If you have the right to vote, and can get to the polls easily, and feel no threat or other impediment to vote, and choose not to, then others are selecting winners for local, state and federal offices for you. These people, elected by others who have other priorities and other goals and expectation that may not align with yours at all, will determine various aspects of your life, so you have, effectively, disenfranchised yourself. The percentage of people who do this in the United Stated is staggering. To those who say that 'it does not matter who wins, it's all the same thing...' really? Yes, maybe we are all going to hell in a hand-basket, but there does seem to be a difference between one set of people who seem to want to put the pedal to the metal and get us there faster vs another who may at least apply the brakes a little and maybe buy us some time for some rational thought and perhaps a genuine change in direction and outcome... maybe it could be like that. But to say there is no difference and opting entirely out of the process is, I have no words... it's like your living with your mom, doing nothing but playing video games and still having her do everything for you when you're fifty. It's freakin' sad.
I will admit that often the lack of choices and overall disgust with the political process as a whole can make one feel as though there is no point in participating, or maybe, that one wouldn't want to "reward" the process with their vote. I can understand the sentiment but by not voting you would be helping to perpetuate a problem and reward bad behavior. You should realize that when the people become disenchanted with the process, with the negative ads, with all the bullshit, that voter turnout drops. This is a known fact and someone benefits from this. The result is that smaller numbers of very energized and generally more partizan voters will determine the outcomes. Look at who the most energized voters are and think about letting them define your government. Crazy people on both sides are becoming a greater percentage of actual voter casters when fewer sane and rational people participate. Think about that and maybe then you can shake off your discouragement, and pick yourself up, and go vote.
NOTE... Voter fraud by individual people voting more than once, voting using other people's identities, dead people voting and so on... these are rare things and are not the same as election fraud which has been proposed as a game changer in the last several presidential and mid-term elections and becomes, with the advent of electronic voting machines, easier to do and hide without a paper audit trail. It has been demonstrated, that voting machines can be preloaded with a bias for one candidate over another and still show the correct number of votes cast. Generating a verifiable paper audit trail generally takes some additional equipment that adds to costs but these audit trails need to exist in every voting district at every polling place and that would be a good way to make election fraud harder to pull off. As opposed to booting people off the roles and making it harder for certain groups of people to register and exercise their franchise.
The problems may seem innumerable but the only way to overcome them is by some form of action. Giving up and opting out, or letting other people cut you out, is not a way to solve anything... inaction is a sure path to a complete loss of freedom and choice... inaction is a sure path to a bleak and dark future... so don't lie down and let bad things happen... act. Take control of your destiny and act. Act or others will act for you and you may not like the outcome... You will suffer through your own lack of action. Take action and keep at it because it's not a one shot deal. Start by making sure you are registered to vote and that you have whatever the proper ID is. Help your friends do the same... and go Vote... that is a start... that is a beginning... and yes continuing is hard but you can't continue until you begin, or begin again, so at least do that.
firstname.lastname@example.org - an org of one - one organism who may not be able to respond to all email and will not respond to flames
apologies to those who came to this web site looking for fuel to stoke their fires of anger and rage... it is not the mission of the org to tell you who the enemy is or who your friends are... the org just wants you to participate and be able to vote if you so choose.
it's fairly obvious that no one is going to even pretend to represent you if you can't or don't vote.