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A Swing State Disenfranchises Its Poor Electorate

By Aura Bogado
As we noted on Thursday, the issue of poverty was conspicuously missing from the first presidential candidates’ debate. While the term “middle class” was traded more than thirty times between Obama and Romney, neither candidate made any substantive claims about poverty. In a debate dominated by the topic of the economy, Obama couldn’t bring himself to say the words “poor” or “poverty” one time. Middle class, meanwhile, remains the term that is supposed to blanket everyone living in the US—despite their income or wealth.

Not surprisingly, the poor are given little voice in this election. Unemployment numbers remain just that: numbers that obscure the reality of those living people surviving without income. At a time when median white household wealth is at more than $110,000, and median black household wealth is less than $5,000, the term middle class also blurs the racial distinctions of money.

Nevada, meanwhile, remains a swing state that will be key in helping to decide the election—but the poor may be losing their collective voice as voters there, too. Although the 1993 National Voter Registration Act obliges public service agencies to provide voter registration forms for their clients, a federal lawsuit alleged that Nevada failed to do so, thereby not allowing an opportunity for the state’s poor to register to vote.