Tuesday 3 November 2020

To cast a free ballot (USA, 1977)

To celebrate the bicentennial of American independence, a new set of “definitive” stamps were issued in the US (remember from previously, definitives are the everyday kind of stamp in general circulation, usually a portrait of a monarch if you have one, but more creatively used in republics!). The “Americana” series draws on key aspects of American life, tradition and philosophy with a strong emphasis on the principles that underpinned the independence movement and the historical events of the time.

We can save for another day discussion about who writes these sorts of principles and who writes the history that we receive. Today’s focus is instead on the right to cast a free ballot – a right that people continue to fight for even in the most liberal of democracies. There are many ways in which someone can be disenfranchised: from exclusion through discrimination to the structural choices we make about how, when and where someone can cast their vote. Universal suffrage is rarely universal.

More than half of Americans have already voted, making the phrase “Election Day” a little redundant but still… it’s Election Day in America.



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