A couple months back, one of our producers, Hayley Hershman, called me with a really interesting story idea. She'd been researching the topic of voter suppression and talked with an expert who explained to her how voting rights and economics have been closely tied together since the founding of the nation. She mentioned that back in the 1700s, the only people who could vote were white men who owned property. We decided to dedicate a whole episode to looking at how money and power have dictated who can cast a ballot. It was tricky to piece together because we also wanted to get into what’s happening today, specifically with access to mail-in ballots. Truthfully, we quickly realized there was just too much we wanted to pack into the episode.
While researching, I was especially interested in what’s going on in Florida, where an appeals court ruled last week that people who’ve been convicted of serious crimes will be ineligible to vote until they’ve paid all their court fees. Civil rights groups and voting rights advocates have likened it to a poll tax. I think it’s a great example of how your economic status can impact what many consider a fundamental right.
I hope y'all enjoy (and learn something from) the episode. I definitely did.