The Vote: Suffrage and Suppression in America is a game about voting rights in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One player, called Equality, advocates for the passage of two amendments to the constitution. The seventeenth amendment transforms the Senate into an elected body, while the nineteenth secures the rights of women to vote. The opposing player, called Supremacy, not only opposes this, but also seeks to entrench racist methods of voter suppression, intimidation, and discrimination — structures that will still be in place after the game ends and for decades longer. Equality's victory will be incomplete; it still remains incomplete today.
This game is something of a companion piece to the same designer's 2018 release, This Guilty Land. It shares many of the same mechanical features: Cards are dealt into and played from a face-up events display, with the function of the card depending upon its type rather than a one-off event. Once used, cards can be taken into a reserve, forming a sort of permanent hand that can be used to act and react. Cards are drawn and kept in reserve according to a player's organizational capacity, which is increased over the course of the game through play of an organization card.
Special attention is paid this time around to the tension between federal and state politics. It is through legislative victories at the local level that Equality will make passage of its amendments inevitable. Supremacy not only will attempt to oppose these gains, but can even reverse them through judicious intervention of state and federal courts. Two elements that separate this game from its predecessor are the presence of passive abilities that trigger when a card in reserve remains face-up at the end of a turn, and the use of region cards to perform free "bonus" actions.
If This Guilty Land was about systems that broke in the face of a clear moral evil, then The Vote sees those same systems functioning as intended. Equality can achieve its aims within the system, but so can Supremacy, making the game one of both triumphs and failures.
Designer: Tom Russell
Map Art: Donal Hegarty
Hex Number: 56
Solitaire Suitability: High
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