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Voter Suppression Is Warping Democracy

Mon 10 Sep, 2018

 Voter Suppression Is Warping Democracy

A new survey from The Atlantic and the Public Religion Research Institute shows that black and Hispanic citizens are more likely than whites to face barriers at the polls—and to fear the future erosion of their basic political rights.

Casting a ballot is the best opportunity most of us will ever get to have a say in who will represent us, what issues they will address and how they will spend our money. The right to vote is so basic, President Lyndon Johnson said in 1965, that without it “all others are meaningless.”

Voter suppression almost certainly helped Donald Trump win the presidency. Multiple academic studies and court rulings indicate that racially biased election laws, such as voter-ID legislation in places like Wisconsin, favored Republican candidates in 2016. Like most other elections in American history, this one wasn’t a fair fight.

A new poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and The Atlantic has uncovered evidence of deep structural barriers to the ballot for black and Latino voters, specifically in the 2016 election. More than that, the survey finds that the deep wounds of Jim Crow endure, leaving America’s democratic promise unfulfilled.

The following is an overview of the many manifestations of voter suppression we are likely to see as the 2018 election cycle begins in earnest, along with potential means of fighting back.

Ways to suppress the vote are legion. This is intended only as an overview of some common methods, which include:

  • Voter ID Requirements
  • Reduction in State Services
  • Selective Access to Early Voting
  • Reduced Early Voting
  • Cumbersome Information and Access
  • Purging Inactive Voter Registrations
  • Unreasonably Strict Matching Requirements
  • Insufficient, Closed, or Under-equipped Polling Stations
  • Moving Polling Locations
  • Deadlines for Registration or Absentee Ballot Requests
  • Felon Disenfranchisement
  • Debt

Fighting Back on November 6, 2018

In the short term, there is no solution to the underlying problems that cause voter suppression. There are no realistic proposals on the table for overcoming deeply ingrained institutional and popular racism, the amorality of win-at-any-cost partisan lawmaking, and the basic inevitability of ballot access being unequal in an unequal society.

Readers already know that wresting control of state legislatures from Republicans and their enablers on November 6, 2018 is an important step in restoring some minimal semblance of fairness to registering, voting, and counting ballots.

I believe that one of the best weapons against the logistical tricks designed to make voting less convenient, more confusing, and more time-consuming is often available but underutilized: the absentee ballot. If you have access to a phone or tablet for this purpose, it can be done in barely a minute in some states. This is no panacea. However, it offers immediate relief against some of the forces being brought to bear against communities of color and the poor.

Here are 8 Ways You  Can Fight the Power

  • Register: Find registration information for every state and request a registration form.
  • Volunteer and recruit: Make sure that your friends, especially those who have moved recently or have not voted before, register to vote. Your local NAACP branch has registration events where you can volunteer.
  • Vote: Once registered, go to your polling location on the correct voting day (for most it will be on November 6, 2018) as early as possible, the earlier the better.
  • Report: If you observe long lines, intimidation of any kind or hints of voter suppression, report it. You can report any issues prior to the voting date at 866-OUR-VOTE.

Vote Team Griffin. This mid-term election is as important as the presidential election, so get it in.


*The Atlantic
*Dissent Magazine

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