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纽约时报双语:我们不能再这样投票了

我们不能再这样投票了
2020 Should Be the Last Time We Vote Like This
FARHAD MANJOO
2020年11月5日
纽约时报双语:我们不能再这样投票了

Now that the ballots have been cast and we wait to see whose will be counted and whose will be ignored, can we please take a moment to acknowledge what a huge mess this whole thing has been?

现在选票已经投出,大家就等着看哪些会被清点,哪些会被忽略,我们能不能花点时间,承认这整件事究竟有多么混乱?

I don’t mean the big things — the absurd twists in the ugly, never-ending, pandemic-blurred, possibly world-ending presidential election of 2020. No, I’m referring to the smallest, most particular act of this saga: the way we voted. The process of registering your democratic preference, the citizen’s core duty in a democracy. Can we take a moment to acknowledge how terribly inefficient, inaccessible, unfair and just plain backward this process remains in the United States?

我指的不是大事——在2020年总统大选里那些丑陋不堪、永无休止、被疫情模糊、甚至可能毁灭世界的荒谬曲折。不,我指的是这出戏里最细微、最典型的一幕:我们投票的方式。登记你民主倾向的过程,是一个民主政体里公民的核心职责。我们能不能花点时间承认,在美国这一过程有多么低效、难及、不公和极其落后?

When all the tallying is done, up to an estimated 160 million Americans will have voted this year — a turnout of about 67 percent of eligible voters. That would be a modern record, and given that it occurred as the coronavirus raged, the casting and counting of all those votes should be regarded as an achievement for the United States’ election system.

等所有计票工作完成后,估计会有多达1.6亿美国人在今年进行了投票——参与人数约占资格选民的67%。这将是近现代最高纪录,鉴于它出现在新冠病毒肆虐的时期,所有这些选票的投出和清点应被视为美国选举制度的一个成就。

But that’s not a very high bar, and the biggest problem about how America conducts its elections is that we have been too tolerant, for too long, of a bar set way too low.

但这并不是个很高的标准,美国如何进行选举的最大问题在于,太久以来,我们对其过低的标准过于宽容。

High turnout notwithstanding, the glaring lesson of this year’s election is that we cannot go on this way. From the endless lines to the pre-election legal wrangling to the president’s constant effort to undermine the process, every ballot cast this year was a leap of faith: Would it get there in time? Would it get there at all? Would they try to toss it out because you voted from a car? Would they throw it out because you signed your name carelessly? Would judges be called upon to alter the mail-in deadline after the election had already begun? Would you ever be able to find the one dropbox in your sprawling county? And, after all that, would anyone believe the count, anyway?

尽管参与人数众多,今年大选的惨痛教训就是,我们不能再这样下去了。从没完没了的排队,到选前法律纠纷,再到总统不断试图破坏选举过程,今年投出的每一张选票都可谓一次信仰之跃:它能及时到站吗?它真能到站吗?他们会因为你在车上投票而把票作废吗?他们会因为你签名草率就把票扔了吗?选举开始以后会去请求法官更改邮寄的截止日期吗?你能在那么大的县里找到那唯一一个投票箱吗?还有,在这重重阻碍之下,还有谁会相信计票吗?

All of this uncertainty is unworthy of the world’s “oldest democracy.” American elections are broken, and because the legitimacy of the entire political system rests upon our votes, their brokenness mars every other part of our democracy.

所有这一切,都配不上世界上“最古老民主政体”这个称号。美国的选举已经崩溃,而且由于整个政治体系的合法性就取决于我们的选票,选举的崩溃也会影响到我们民主制度其余的每一面。

Fixing how we vote isn’t a mystery. Experts have recommended several specific measures that could greatly expand the franchise, including federal measures to make registration easier, expand early voting and ensure we have adequate resources at polling locations to prevent long lines.

改变我们的投票方式并不是个谜题。专家们推荐了数项能极大扩张选举权的具体措施,包括让注册更容易的联邦措施,扩大提前投票规模,并确保我们在投票站有足够的资源,避免选民排长队。

The difficulty is, instead, political. For decades, limiting who gets to vote has been a key strategy of the Republican Party — though usually people on the right have not been quite so proud of this fact. This year, as has happened often with Donald Trump, subtext became text. In the weeks before Election Day, Trump all but boasted about the role that voter intimidation and suppression would play in his campaign.

相较之下,困难在于政治层面。数十年来,限制选民投票一直都是共和党的一项关键策略——哪怕右派通常不太会为这一事实感到自豪。而今年,就像特朗普的一贯作风那样,潜台词变成了台词。在大选日的前几周,特朗普几乎是在吹嘘选民威胁和压制将在他的竞选中发挥多大作用。

“We’re watching you, Philadelphia,” Trump warned in Pennsylvania last week, suggesting something untoward going on with the vote in a city highly unfavorable to his candidacy. “We’re watching at the highest level.”

“我们在看着你,费城,”特朗普上周在宾夕法尼亚州警告,暗示在这个对他竞选非常不利的城市,投票过程中发生了一些不正常的事。“我们的最高层正在看着呢。”

If Democrats win the presidency and the Senate, undoing the Republican bet on disenfranchisement ought to be among their highest priorities. One reason voting remains so onerous is that we rarely think about it except close to Election Day. The further out we get from the vote, the less urgency there is to fix things. But nothing else in a democracy works if voting doesn’t work. So, please, let’s fix voting first.

如果民主党拿下了总统职位和参议院,那么撤销共和党对剥夺公民选举权所下的赌注应该是他们的首要任务之一。投票如此繁琐的一个原因是,除了在临近大选日的时候,我们很少想到这个问题。我们从投票里获得的越多,改变现状的紧迫性就越少。但如果投票不起作用,民主制度中的一切都起不了作用。所以,请先改革投票。

None of the problems we saw this year were new; inaccessibility, confusion, bureaucratic hoop-jumping and outright intimidation have long been hallmarks of American elections. Though politicians speak dreamily of the importance of voting, the United States badly lags other democracies on many measures of electoral success; in many countries, a turnout rate of about two-thirds wouldn’t rank as particularly extraordinary.

我们今年看到的问题都不是新的:障碍重重、混乱、官僚主义的繁琐和公然的威胁恐吓一直是美国选举的特色。尽管政客们如痴如醉地谈论投票的重要性,美国在许多选举成功的衡量标准上严重落后于其他民主国家;在许多国家,三分之二左右的投票率可不算特别高。

Voting in this country is also highly unequal. Compared with turnout among whites, turnout among people of color is often lower. It’s hard to argue this isn’t by design, a result of decades of deliberate disenfranchisement and the perpetuation, still, of voter suppression efforts aimed at people of color.

这个国家的投票也非常不平等。与白人的投票率相比,有色人种的投票率通常较低。很难说这不是有意为之,这是数十年来针对有色人种故意剥夺选举权、更不用说还有持续选民压制的结果。

But the best way to appreciate the shortcomings in how we vote isn’t by looking at other countries. Instead, compare the act of voting to other modern services. Set against so many less important transactions in American life — ordering a complicated coffee from a national chain, or finding the best sushi place in a town you’ve never visited before — the simple act of casting a ballot is laughably antiquated.

但要了解我们投票方式的缺陷所在,最好的办法不是看向其他国家。相反,我们要将投票行为与其他现代服务进行比较。与美国生活太多不那么重要的事情——在一家全国连锁店点一杯做法复杂的咖啡,或是在一个你从未去过的小镇找到最好的寿司店——相比,投一张票这个简单行为已经过时到可笑的地步了。

Across much of the country, registering to vote is a labyrinth. In most states, if you haven’t remembered to register by Election Day, you’re too late. Not that you’d necessarily know about it. In between elections, it’s become common for states to “purge” voter rolls of people deemed ineligible, a process that many voters only learn about when they show up at the polls and are denied the chance to vote.

在全国大部分地方,注册投票就像走迷宫。在大多数州,如果没有在选举日前注册,你就来不及投票了。你不一定知道这个规定。在选举之间,各州“清洗”被认定无资格的选民名册的做法已经很常见,许多选民只有在他们来到投票站,却被剥夺投票机会之后才知道有这么个程序。

The system is also fragmented and underfunded, and it suffers from misaligned incentives. In many countries, elections are administered by nonpartisan agencies that set rules for the entire nation. In the United States, elections are often run by elected officials — Republican or Democratic secretaries of state, for instance — and rules about who gets to vote and how they do so differ from state to state.

除此之外,这个体系内部各自为政、资金不足,而且还深受错位的激励机制之害。在很多国家,选举由无党派机构管理,这些机构为全国选举制定规则。在美国,选举通常由民选官员——比如各州的共和党或民主党州务卿——负责,各州对谁有权投票、以及如何投票的规定都各有不同。

Because states and the federal government do not sufficiently fund the voting system, it is often unable to meet anything more than ordinary demand. In the last few weeks, Americans in many cities have waited hours for the chance to vote, which is both inspiring and a really terrible comment on the state of our democracy.

由于各州和联邦政府没有为投票系统提供足够的资金,它通常只能满足最基础的需求。过去几周,许多城市的美国民众为了得到投票机会苦等数小时,这既是鼓舞人心的,也是对我们民主制度一个非常糟糕的评价。

As Amanda Mull noted recently in The Atlantic, in 2020 the act of voting was elevated to that most sacrosanct place in American society — it became feel-good marketing for brands. This year it felt as if just about every brand in America turned giddy about the democratic process. Retailers and fashion designers and restaurant chains couldn’t stop reminding us to “Vote!”

正如阿曼达·穆尔(Amanda Mull)最近在《大西洋月刊》(The Atlantic)上指出的那样,2020年,投票行为已经上升到了美国社会最神圣的位置——成了一个让品牌自我感觉良好的营销方式。今年,似乎所有美国品牌都对这一民主过程兴奋得忘乎所以。零售商、时尚设计师和连锁餐厅一刻不停地提醒我们去“投票!”

But the embrace of voting as a way to project corporate virtue only highlights how little the government has done to promote this supposedly precious democratic act. “As long as America’s leaders decline to make the system-wide changes that would help more people vote, corporations with something to sell will seep into the void,” Mull wrote.

但将鼓励投票作为标榜企业道德的一种方式,只会凸显政府在推动这一本应受到珍视的民主行动上做的有多少。“只要美国领导人还在拒绝进行能帮助更多人投票的系统性改革,想要卖货的企业就会乘虚而入,”穆尔写道。

She’s right, and it’s terrible. Voting shouldn’t be this difficult or this uncertain. We know what needs to be done to improve the process. And we shouldn’t wait until another election to get it done.

她是对的,这太可怕了。投票不应该如此困难或如此不确定。我们都清楚改进这个过程需要做些什么。我们也不应再等着另一次选举来完成这件事了。

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