If the U.S. voting system seems complex or unreasonable to you, dedicate an hour and 24 minutes to watching Vox’s new Netflix miniseries.
Netflix released Whose Vote Counts on Sept. 28, only five weeks before the Nov. 3 election.
I have spent over three years learning about the U.S. electoral system in college courses, yet Vox’s miniseries managed to summarize 244 years of American election history in three short episodes. I already sent it to one of my former professors.
The series features conservative, liberal and apolitical commentators to emphasize the nonpartisan importance of voting, along with celebrity voices to narrate the story. In typical Vox style, simple graphics turned complex data into easily understood information.
Leonardo DiCaprio narrates the first episode entitled “The Right to Vote”. This episode was all about U.S. voter suppression. Vox did not shy away from the U.S.’s history of poll taxes, literacy tests, and strict voter ID laws. Voting rights activist, Desmond Meade, described his work to gain the right to vote for felons.
The second episode chronicles the messy world of campaign finances. Selena Gomez narrates the history of campaign fundraising and ensuing legal battles. Political scientists and historians explained its nuances. This episode is especially important for American voters to watch. It educated me on the mega donors, political action committees, and where my tax dollars might end up.
John Legend narrates the final episode of the series, “Whose Vote Counts”. This episode delves into systems in place that can be used to manipulate election results. The Electoral College and gerrymandering are two convoluted concepts that have overridden the popular vote for years. Former governor of Ohio, John Kasich, explained that both major parties redraw districts to increase its chance of winning.
I appreciated this project for several reasons.
First, the U.S. electoral system has intricacies that many citizens don’t understand, even though the government is meant to serve its people. “Whose Vote Counts” untangled the mysteries of our voting system in an easily understandable manner, without being condescending. It’s suitable for anyone who desires to learn more about American elections.
Next, Vox enlisted the help of political scientists, elected officials and historians to tell the story. While celebrities narrated the series, they refrained from political or historical comments. They cited data analysis and official research from sources such as the Center for Responsive Politics.
Finally, I enjoyed this miniseries for its mission. It was released with the intent to encourage Americans to vote. Four out of ten eligible voters did not vote in the 2016 election. Many Americans don’t think their vote matters, so Vox set out to disprove this.
While there have always been speedbumps and roadblocks to a perfect voting system, voting is vital to a democracy. The more citizens use their voice, the better.
So, whose vote actually counts? Everyone’s.