LeBron James Suggests US Electoral System Is 'Structurally Racist'

June 10, 2020

LeBron James has questioned the ability of US electoral politics to deliver justice after voters faced hours-long waits to cast their ballots on Tuesday.

Primary voters in predominantly black districts of Georgia reported long lines and broken machines -- or in some cases no machines at all. Drone footage appeared to show massive lines at one polling station.

The scenes prompted renewed claims of voter suppression -- including from James.

"Everyone talking about 'how do we fix this?'" James said on social media. "They say 'go out and vote?' What about asking if how we vote is also structurally racist?"

Georgia has been a flash point for the debate over the fairness of the US electoral system. Governor Brian Kemp won a fiercely contested race in 2018 amid claims of widespread suppression -- while presiding over the election as secretary of state.

James has been vocal in calling for justice for Floyd. Days after Floyd's death, he posted a meme on Instagram comparing Floyd's grisly death under the knee of a former Minneapolis police officer to Colin Kaepernick's peaceful kneeling protest at NFL games. He also tweeted in support of a protester injured by police officers in Buffalo, NY, among many other comments.

James' remarks on the voting situation touch on a budding debate about whether meaningful reform can be achieved through electoral politics, without the continued pressure of nationwide protests.

On average only about half the voting-age population casts ballots in presidential elections, while the rate for lesser office is surely lower. Scenes like Tuesday make it obvious why there may be limited faith in voting.

To top it off, anyone who has voted in the US can attest to the arcane and byzantine registration rules, and way too many have had the surprise of being informed on election day they were dropped from the rolls for no discernible reason.

The correlation between income and voting is strong -- the more you make, the more likely you are to pull the lever. America's low-wage workers are disproportionately people of color -- many are hourly workers who can't afford to lose three hours of pay to vote, for example. A famous 2014 study by a pair of Princeton University researchers showed there was no correlation between public opinion and policy.

Taken in total, it doesn't paint a very flattering picture of voting in the US.