By Robert P. Alvarez
Highly charged midterm elections are just around the corner, and experts are predicting record-high midterm voter turnout. But millions of U.S. citizens are being systematically inhibited — either blatantly or covertly — from casting votes this November.
Voter suppression is real, and it’s very likely happening in your state. Your fellow Americans — and maybe you — are being denied the most fundamental right citizens of a democratic republic have: the right to elect those who govern. If that doesn’t have you up in arms, it should.
One state with a particularly expansive history of voter suppression is Florida, where one out of five African-American adults can’t vote due to disenfranchisement.
This November, Floridians will vote on whether to restore the right to vote to 1.5 million people affected by permanent felony disenfranchisement. Doing so would send a powerful message to the rest of the country, as Florida accounts for nearly half of the U.S.’s permanently disenfranchised population.
Meanwhile, a different mechanism of voter suppression threatens the legitimacy of the governor’s race in Georgia, where candidate for governor — and current secretary of state — Brian Kemp is reportedly behind the stalling of 53,000 voter applications. Among those, 70 percent belong to black voters.
Kemp is being sued by civil rights lawyers for allegedly violating voter protection laws with his “exact match” voter verification method, an excessively strict voter ID requirement that seems to disproportionately disqualify nonwhite voters. And while Kemp claims to be “protecting the integrity of elections,” he’s heard in leaked audio from one of his recent campaign events — obtained by Rolling Stone — fretting that Georgians “exercising their right to vote” could hurt his campaign.
Other forms of suppression are even more obvious.
For example, North Dakota’s state legislature passed a law blatantly targeting Native Americans. It required voter IDs containing a residential address. Native American reservations in North Dakota issue IDs with P.O. boxes rather than residential addresses, and legislators knew it.
Despite its discriminatory nature, attempts to challenge the law have failed. The Supreme Court upheld it, making voting as a Native American in North Dakota distinctly more difficult than voting as a non-Native. And while the progressive website Daily Kos was able to raise $100,000 to help cover the costs of new IDs, it shouldn’t have to come to that.
There are plenty of other examples of voter suppression as well, most of them disproportionately affecting people of color and low-income communities. It’s high time we do away with policies and practices designed to disempower certain populations politically.
And look, it isn’t all doom and gloom.
There are innovative policies being implemented around the country that make registering to vote easier, bypassing some of the more common forms of voter suppression.
One such policy is automatic voter registration — enacted by 13 states and the District of Columbia — which automatically registers voters upon renewal of their driver’s license. In Vermont’s case, this has led to an absolutely staggering 92.5 percent voter registration rate.
Additionally, over a dozen states and D.C. authorized pre-registration for youth under 18; 36 states and D.C. authorized online voter registration; and 15 states and D.C. authorized same day registration.
Policies like these simplify the voting process and increase voter turnout. Plainly, we need more of them. In the words of the late, great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “give us the ballot.”
Robert P. Alvarez is a communications assistant at the Institute for Policy Studies.
We should go back to only allowing property owners being allowed to vote.
I like the idea of auto driver’s license renewal voter registration. Although it won’t help those that choose not to have a driver’s license or newly registered voter’s. I also like the idea of voter verification upon voting regardless of what method each state chooses to use. BUT it should be CLEARLY stated to each voter as to exactly how each state will verify their right to vote. In this country we have laws, a constitution and amendments. If people choose to ignore the aforementioned then maybe they should choose another country to live in.
As Karl Rove,a Republican strategist said “in a democracy to win you need 50% PLUS one vote”.By reducing the opponent’s count by one vote will give you the majority.
GO OUT and VOTE.
Michael Cocchiola says
What we have in this country is a continuous organized attempt by Republicans to suppress the vote bo non-white western Europeans. What we have is the degradation of democracy in this once great country. What we have is the American equivalent of a banana republic run by a racist cleptocracy. This country is fatally ill and the disease is conservativism.
“This November, Floridians will vote on whether to restore the right to vote to 1.5 million people affected by permanent felony disenfranchisement. Doing so would send a powerful message to the rest of the country, as Florida accounts for nearly half of the U.S.’s permanently disenfranchised population.”
Let me get this straight, it’s my fault you can’t vote because YOU committed a crime.
This article is pure nonsense, anyone can vote if they get off their ass, register, and vote.
Florida, where one out of five African-American adults can’t vote due to disenfranchisement.
Dont want to be “disenfranchised” dont commit a FELONY.
Edith Campins says
It is the only way Republicans can win.
Born and Raised Here says
As a native of Flagler, I never like the ideal that they allow anyone to run for office. I would like to see them change the requirements to say you must have lived in the County or State of Florida for at least 10 years. This length of time would allow the candiate to become acclimated to our way of life, and our viewpoints on politics