Here’s a question. Is the current situation in which the Republicans are systematically trying to limit how many people can vote (and the Democrats are trying to make it easier for people to vote) a natural byproduct of America’s two-party system?

In other words, would it really ever be in the interests of a major political party to restrict voting in a multi-party system?

Since there is a political price to pay for nakedly trying to disenfranchise people, a political party would not make the effort unless they had the hope of a sufficient upside. In a strictly binary system, it might make sense. But in a system with, say, proportional representation and/or a prime minister, I’m doubtful that it would ever pay off enough to compensate for the way it alienates people.

But maybe it’s normal for a two-party system to develop in such a way that one party always benefits from higher turnout and one party always suffers. In such a system, the party that suffers will begin to doubt the worth of people’s right to vote, since that right imperils their hold on power.

What do you think?

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at