6 Million Americans Were Barred From Voting This Election

6 Million Americans Were Barred From Voting This Election

Because they're prisoners...
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When millions of Americans cast their votes for tumultuous 2016 presidential election, six million Americans held their breath because they had no say in the matter. Those six million are felons, criminals carrying out their court-mandated prison sentences which include "civil death," the loss of voting rights. The condition of civil death has been used against criminals since ancient Greece and was brought over to America by the English colonists, but in modern times with modern ethics, such a practice raises several questions.

Namely, should felons be allowed to have a say in who becomes the president of our nation, or have they forfeited that right entirely?

Donald Trump, for one, does not believe that convicted felons should have the right to vote.

And considering that felons' votes could largely impact swing states, there is certainly room for discussion. In Florida, for instance, "more than 10 percent of the voting-age population is disenfranchised," and felons' voting rights are restored only "through a governor’s executive action or a court order. Similar rules apply in Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia," according to KQED News.

Presently, only Maine and Vermont grant felons the right to vote, even when they are incarcerated, whereas 38 other states (including the District of Columbia) give felons the right to vote only after the completion of their sentence. Some other states require the full completion of the prison sentence, including parole and probation — which can continue for one's entire life.

As it so happens, the states with the most restrictive felon disenfranchisement laws disproportionately affect African Americans — especially black men, with one out 13 rendered unable to vote. That's more than 7 percent nationally, as reported by the Sentencing Project. Maine and Vermont, on the other hand, (the only two states that allow felons to vote while imprisoned), are "both overwhelmingly white," notes KQED News.

Also interestingly enough, according to Edison Research for the National Election Pool's exit poll, those same "white non-Hispanic voters preferred Trump over Clinton by 21 percentage points (58 percent to 37 percent),"

The New York Times reported that a majority of the states where whites voted for Trump are "states where non-college whites outnumber college-educated whites the most: Iowa (by 30 percent), Wisconsin (by 25 percent), Ohio (by 24 percent) and Nevada (by 18 percent)." That maybe a large part of the reason why swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Iowa succumbed to the Trump majority.

If felons were permitted to vote, would the swing states have chosen differently?

Some say yes because a disproportionate number of African Americans are jailed in several states across the U.S., particularly those in the South which also happens to have the strictest set of felon disenfranchisement laws.

However, others ask, does it even matter? After all, criminals have landed themselves in jail for a reason, and while for some it may have been due to difficult circumstances and an unfortunate series of events, it's still worth noting that they have violated the law.

But because of the current law, 46 percent of prisoners are being jailed for drug offenses, most of which we can safely assume may be marijuana charges. Out of the total population of convicts across America, 4.1 percent of prisoners are later found to be innocent. This means 1 in 25 adults is falsely imprisoned, and "in a country with millions of criminal convictions a year and more than 2 million people behind bars, even 1 percent amounts to tens of thousands of tragic errors," according to The Washington Post.

Society's harsh view of convicts and ex-convicts has often skewed our treatment of them.

As we've progressed into modern times, the law has been adjusted to our shifting moral compass which has resulted in many changes, such as granting women the right to vote and legalizing alcohol. These two changes in particular affected a majority of the population and thus, were backed strongly and consistently till the government complied. Felons, on the other hand, are locked behind bars with little to no interaction with the rest of society. They not only suffer a "civil death" for their crimes but also face exclusion from normality due to their isolation in prison society which follows the uncivil "code of the street."

Because of the danger associated with mixing criminals and civilians, as well as the fact that our prison system is already pretty messed up, it's all too easy to understand why it's easier for us to just restrict convicts' and ex-convicts' rights when it comes to having a say in political matters.

What we have yet to understand, however, is that the prison system does not become an entity separate from the existence of our nation. The prison system and its prisoners are very much a part of America, and they have understood the horrors of the prison system firsthand, which gives them not only more experience but the right to speak out about change in the system. And perhaps it should also give them the right to cast a vote for a leader who will change the degenerated American prison systems.

But it doesn't seem like that'll be happening anytime soon, considering that, in response to the governor of Virgina signing an executive order that restored the voting rights of over 200,000 ex-felons, Think Progress reports that president-elect Donald Trump said:

“That’s crooked politics...They’re giving 200,000 people that have been convicted of heinous crimes, horrible crimes, the worst crimes, the right to vote because, you know what? They know they’re gonna vote Democrat. They’re gonna vote Democrat and that could be the swing. That’s how disgusting and dishonest our political system is.”
Cover Image Credit: Creative Loafing

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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How The Democratic Party basically Handed Donald Trump The Presidency

The rise of Donald Trump was propelled in part by the far left's efforts to undermine him.

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Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 Presidential Election was a shock to many across the country, myself included. It seemed impossible that someone so unapologetically crass, rude, and idiotic could even hope to achieve the position of the most powerful person in the world (have I mentioned that he literally admitted to sexually assaulting women?). I mean sure, it certainly didn't help that Hillary Clinton was probably the worst candidate that the Democratic Party could have run against him... actually she was definitely the worst, but she still should have won. As she tries to explain in her new book, what happened?

In order for a bigoted, fear-mongering, and an arguably uneducated man like Donald Trump to become president, there needs to be a perfect storm. We've already established that Hillary was a bad candidate on the Democratic side, but none of the other Republican candidates were very good either. Their best guy other than Trump was Ted Cruz, a man who can be described as unsettling on his best days. There was also a large number of people that resonated with Trump. Granted, they were mostly uneducated, blue-collar, religious, second amendment nuts, but Trump's "forgotten man" schtick stuck with them, as these were people who felt like they were being left behind. I would argue that they were and should have been, but that's beside the point.

However, the one thing that I think influenced Donald Trump's meteoric rise to the presidency the most were the ridiculous ways that some of his opponents would try to undermine his legitimacy as a candidate. As someone who identifies as a Democrat myself (not as my gender, but as my political affiliation), I certainly was not a fan of Donald Trump. I think that his election has brought us one step closer to the dystopian future laid out in the cinematic masterpiece that is Idiocracy, but it's not like my party didn't have opportunities to bring him down a peg. It's also not like we didn't completely fail in doing so.

Every time Donald Trump would say something that could be construed as racist, xenophobic, or sexist, Democrats would pounce on it and use it as proof that he was all of these things. This is a good method, but many Democrats got too overzealous in using it, calling him these things even when what he said was probably not racist, or even not racist at all. The baseless attacks vastly outnumbered the legitimate ones, and Trump supporters used it as a way to rally around their guy and to validate the ideas of "fake news" and their "us against the world" mentality.

The day the Donald Trump won the election, in my opinion at least, was the day that Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters a "basket of deplorables." Are you kidding me?! You're going to take tens of millions of American voters, essentially call them racist, sexist idiots, and flat-out dismiss them? All she did was verify to the Trump supporter all the things that he already believed: that he was being disrespected, left behind, and forgotten about by the democratic party. Regardless, how do you think people are going to vote if you just insult their intelligence and character for months on end? That's not the way to build bridges; it only creates the divisiveness that Trump thrives in.

This is why people think of Democrats as elitist: because Democrats act really elitist. If you always act like you know better than everyone else and sit in your ivory tower expecting everyone to realize how stupid they are, you're not going to win elections. In fact, you'll do so bad in elections that you'll lose to an unqualified, idiotic, racist Cheeto that wears a toupee that looks like it was made from hairs scooped out of the bathroom sink. Anyway, that's why Trump won the election: because Hillary and the Democrats had their heads so far up their asses that they couldn't smell his spray tan coming.

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