Voter Caging (word study)

After hearing reports of widespread voter caging (voter suppression) across the United States, I grew curious about the derivation of the term and looked up “caging” in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Here is the salient part of the definition:

caging (1556).   1 : to confine or keep in or as if in a cage  2 : to drive (as a puck) into a cage and score a goal

The point of voter caging is to prevent certain groups of qualified registered voters from casting their ballots by essentially “putting them in a cage.” The usual targets are voters who are unfamiliar with their rights under the law, soldiers deployed overseas, and people who lack the time and other resources to prove that their registration is valid.

In this 2008 election, voters who have lost their homes due to foreclosure are especially vulnerable to caging; when they arrive at their polling places, challengers may charge that their registrations are no longer valid because their addresses aren’t current.

For more details, take a look at Wikipedia’s writeup on caging. Also take a look at NOW’s recent program on caging.

If you believe that you are at risk of being challenged at your polling place, take action:

  • Vote early, if possible. This will give you time to resolve any issues that may arise
  • Call the Election Protection Hotline at 1 866 OUR VOTE
  • Call your county registrar of voters, or county elections office
  • Avoid using a provisional ballot, which may not be counted.

This is a particular important and exciting election year. Happy voting!

Tara Treasurefield
Tara’s Writing Studio


About 123clear

I translate foggy information into plain English.
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