One of the benefits of rewatching a movie several times is that you notice things that you didn’t the first time, and one question I started asking myself was “How did Harley vote?”
**Minor spoiler for Birds of Prey.**
While narrating the list of potential grievances that Roman Sionis would have against Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey, one of the things she mentions is that she voted for Bernie Sanders (hell yeah). It’s a quick, funny moment, but then, during my 3rd viewing, I wondered something: How did Harley vote?
Upon my third watch of #BirdsOfPreyMovie I realized that if HARLEY can vote for Bernie that must mean she lives in a state where felons can vote because she is canonically a murderer. So … Gotham City, more progressive when it comes to voting rights than you’d expect XD
— princess guinevere weekes (REVISIONS TIME) (@WeekesPrincess) February 13, 2020
Harley is a murderer who was kept in a supermax prison at some point, which makes her a felon and therefore a would-be victim of voter disenfranchisement. Disenfranchisement is when the right to vote is legally taken away from someone, and that has been made to apply for felons in the United States in ways that vary on a state-by-state basis. The 1974 Supreme Court Case Richardson v. Ramirez made it so that disallowing felons from voting was not seen as a conflict with the 14th Amendment.
Felons who have completed their sentences are allowed to vote in most U.S. states, but Maine and Vermont (Bernie Sanders’ state, mind you) are the only states with unrestricted voting rights for people who are felons.
Now, Gotham City doesn’t exist in either of those places. Historically speaking, Gotham is canonically located in the state of New Jersey, while resembling more New York and Chicago in terms of an urban feel. Although, early DC comics did place Batman in New York, and writers like Denny O’Neil have said Gotham is Manhattan-adjacent.
When it comes to voting rights in New Jersey, effective March 17, 2020, disenfranchisement ends after incarceration is complete. Okay, so in Gotham City, since it’s part of New Jersey, once you finish serving your time, that means you can actually go out and vote—this year.
Good for you Gotham, in the near future.
However, that leads us to question number two? When did Harley vote, and if she did, was it legal?
Harley has gotten released from Arkham legally a bunch of times. If you followed Batman: The Animated Series (Harley’s point of origin), you know it was established that because Batman often captures these villains, they get sent to Arkham Asylum, not jail, and that creates a comic book legal loophole, which allows inmates to be freed after being labeled sane by their psychiatrists. Therefore, they are not serving a jail sentence, and unless a judge has decided that they lack the mental capacity to vote, then a patient at Arkham has the potential to vote.
Ergo, Harleen Quinzeel could have legally voted for Bernie Sanders in Gotham City during the 2016 Democratic primaries, before the events of Suicide Squad.
Is it more likely that she might have committed some form of voter fraud? Yes, but I choose to believe that Harley felt the Bern for real and wanted to do her civic duty to get universal healthcare for her fellow patients at Arkham.
(image: Warner Bros.)
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