US elections compare poorly with Brazil’s

Glenn Greenwald and Victor Pougy compare yesterday’s election in the US with last month’s election in Brazil to show how awful it is here.

That a country poorer than the U.S., with a much shorter history of democracy, can hold such seamless, fair, participatory, and efficient elections proves that the opposite outcome in the U.S. — massive voter disenfranchisement, multi-hour voting lines, pervasive machine malfunctions, and elections that are not decided until weeks after the fact — are very easily avoided and thus likely intentional.

Brazil’s national elections are comparable in size to the U.S.’s. Although Brazil’s population is slightly less than the that of the U.S. — which is the world’s third-most populous country at roughly 325 million, while Brazil is in fifth place with roughly 210 million — Brazil has mandatory voting, a lower voting age (16), and automatic voter registration for citizens, which means vote totals are comparable. In Brazil’s October 28 run-off presidential election, roughly 110 million votes were cast, in the same range of last night’s U.S. vote total.

Yet Brazil’s elections are plagued by virtually none of the problems that mar the credibility of U.S. elections year after year.

That’s because everything about the structure of Brazil’s election system, set forth in the 1989 constitution it enacted after it exited its military dictatorship, is designed to maximize, not suppress, voter participation. All citizens are automatically registered. Voting is mandatory. The elections are held on Sunday, ensuring that working people have the fewest barriers to voting, instead of in the middle of the week. Machine voting is uniform throughout the country’s 27 states.

Rotten elections in the US are not a bug, they are a feature, designed to impede voting and cause endless frustration.


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