Justice Depends on Trusting What We Witness

We witness injustices all the time

We are witness to injustices at a level human history has not experienced before. We endure news on a 24/7 basis, complete with video and punditry that explodes from our televisions, smart phones, and print news media. We may call it “noise” but the reality is that injustice hits us, feeds us, constantly. How we respond to what we see – what we witness –dictates future justice.

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Many were witness to George Floyd’s murder

Steve Karnowski and Amy Forliti of the Associated Press noted the testimonies of the Derek Chauvin murder trial in their article, “Witnesses: Onlooker anger increased as Floyd stopped moving.”

Onlookers grew increasingly angry as they begged Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin to take his knee off George Floyd’s neck, but Chauvin would not let up, and another officer forced back members of the crowd who tried to intervene, witnesses testified Tuesday at Chauvin’s murder trial.

Amy Forliti reporting again for the Associated Press, along with Stephen Groves and Tammy Webber, of the prosecution’s closing argument in the article, “Key moments in closing arguments of Chauvin trail.” Highlights include:

“HIS NAME WAS GEORGE PERRY FLOYD, JR.”

That opening line by prosecutor Steve Schleicher set the stage for his sometimes emotional closing argument, reminding jurors who Floyd was, that others cared for him, and that he died surrounded by strangers, writhing on the ground and repeating “I can’t breathe.” …

“BELIEVE YOUR EYES”

Schleicher repeatedly told jurors to trust that they saw the life squeezed out of Floyd on bystander video.

“This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first … You can believe your eyes. … “

We can believe what we witness

“You can believe your eyes,” is not an idle comment. We often disbelieve because what we “see” is so absurd. We wonder, “Can it be true?” When tragedy is revealed, when injustice stands naked before us, do we turn away, simply pass by; or do we stop and witness what there is to see?

All of this may seem to be an odd lead-in to what is an overwhelming injustice we have endured for two hundred years. On the one hand we “see” a man being murdered in front of us. On the other, we can see our democracy grievously abused every time we seek to elect a president.

Every presidential election catches our attention as the ballots are counted and the states weigh in with their preferred choice. The Electoral College, established by the U.S. Constitution, allows each state to select a president on a proportional basis. That is, each state and Washington, D.C., is free to cast electoral votes as they independently see fit. All choose to employ the Winner-Takes-All (WTA) approach and, in front of our eyes, silences a large proportion of voters. It happens in every presidential election. We see it, disbelieve it, and move on.

We witness injustice in every presidential election

This table shows the number of ballots that did not have any representation in the Electoral College. The middle row is for the 2016 election and the bottom row shows the 2020 election results. The ballots cast for Clinton in 2016 and for Biden in 2020 that were not represented in the Electoral College (did not matter!) are shown in the Democrats column. Likewise, the ballots cast for Trump in 2016 and 2020 that had no Electoral College representation (did not matter!) are shown in the Republicans column.

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The total ballots cast for all candidates that were not represented in the Electoral College (did not matter!) are also shown. A keen mathematical eye can quickly see that these are not totals from the first two columns. Rather, additional ballots are included that were cast for other candidates (Johnson and Stein in 2016) and for write-in votes. The percentage column shows the percentage of all ballots cast in those years that did not gain Electoral College representation – did not matter!

Given that every year our nation suffers from low voter turnout, though these two elections were exceptional in that regard, many registered voters do not matter! In fact, combining the registered non-voters with those whose ballots were suppressed as noted above, a general maxim can be stated:

It takes three registered voters to deliver
one viable presidential ballot!

This is an injustice that occurs in every presidential election. It is there for all of us to see, on a state-by-state basis, as WTA denies true Electoral College representation. It occurs right before our eyes! Think of WTA as a knee on the neck of the Electoral College.

Here’s another injustice to keep in mind:

It is unjust to blame the Electoral College for results that do not reflect the consensus of the voting citizens. It is just as unjust to do so as it is to blame George Floyd for his own murder. We must not blame the victim!

We can believe what we witness and correct the injustice

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) can correct this injustice. Further, it can do so on a state-by-state basis without requiring a U.S. Constitutional Amendment. Each state can elect to ensure all viable votes gain Electoral College representation.

The injustice is right before our eyes! We can believe what we see. Do we want an inclusive democracy or do we want to ignore it, continue to set it aside, and continue on as we have because, as some may say, “There’s nothing to see here?”

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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