Whose vote counts, the Netflix series, explained

By Claire Gordon

Elections aren’t just a measure of what parties and candidates people prefer; they’re a measure of who counts in a country. And that’s what Vox’s new Netflix special series Whose Vote Counts is about.

You can watch all three episodes over on Netflix, launching on Monday, September 28.

Americans vote at much lower rates than most other developed countries, and one of the most common reasons given is that people don’t think their vote matters. Voting does matter, enormously — but it makes sense that so many Americans feel that way. All kinds of systems unique to the United States keep voters from the polls, tip elections in favor of moneyed interests, and give some votes a lot more power than others.

For the three episodes in this series, “The right to vote,” “Can you buy an election?” and “Whose vote counts,” we combed through piles of studies, analyzed reams of data, and spoke to leading experts who’ve lived these systems from the inside. The result, we hope, is three compelling stories that make the issues and their stakes clear — brought to life by our three incredibly talented narrators, who shared our passion for these issues: Leonardo DiCaprio, Selena Gomez, and John Legend.

The topics of these episodes have been coming to a head in recent years. But as we were making this series, and the election season heated up, we were surprised at the new dimensions they took. The pandemic has brought unprecedented strains on American voting systems, and new opportunities for unfair play.

But it’s also helped energize the debate over how American citizens want the system to work. Our series outlines some of the proposed solutions out there to make America’s democracy represent all its citizens better. Many of the experts we spoke to were hopeful that we may be at an inflection point — heightened awareness and renewed will might have the power to bring about significant reform. As one of our interviewees put it: “There’s no such thing as forever in a democracy.” It’s just up to the American people to decide what’s next.

Watch the series here.

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