Voting is a task that should be as easy and convenient as possible. However, currently, in the US, there are many politicians, including Trump, that are passing measures to make it harder to cast a ballot.
Their main goal behind this is manipulating political outcomes. So, the result is severely compromised democracy, which does not reflect the will of the people of the United States.
Currently, a lot of things related to voter suppression are going on in the United States. In this article, we will discuss what voter suppression is, cite examples of voter suppression, and review possible approaches on how to stop voter suppression, and pass on everything else you need to know about voter suppression.
What is Voter Suppression?
is a technique or strategy that either legally or illegally manipulates the final result of an election by discouraging or preventing specific groups of voters from voting.
The voter restrictions efforts vary by state, precinct, local government, and election. Moreover, there are various efforts to enfranchise and disenfranchise numerous voters in the country. It decides whether people are eligible to vote or not.
Targets of Voter Suppression in 2020
The main target of voter suppression is people of color; they tend to be disproportionately affected. No matter what their ethnicity, voter suppression impacts women, students, elderly, disabled, and low-income household voters. Statistically, all these voters tend to vote for Democrats.
Black Voters Face Voter Suppression
After the US Civil War during the reconstruction era, Black voters in the South finally got the right to vote in federal elections for the first time in 1868.
During that time, they had an opportunity to protect themself from the rainstorm of racism. Everything was going fine from 1868 to 1877. Even the Supreme Court made a decision of freeing former slaves in Texas over two and a1865.
Currently, states are eliminating Black voters through voter purges.
The election administrator plays a responsible role in clearing voter rolls, because many people move, die, or become ineligible to vote due to other reasons.
However, sometimes the state uses this as a method of mass disenfranchisement, purging eligible voters from the rolls for illegitimate reasons without adequate notice to the voters.
The single purge is enough to stop as many as one hundred thousand people from voting. Moreover, voters will only get to know that they have been purged when they show up at the polls on Election Day.
The voter purging is increasing very much from recent years. A study shows that from 2014 to 2016, sixteen million voters were purged from the rolls.
The most common excuse for purging voter rolls is to filter out voters who have changed their address, died, or failed to vote in recent elections.
States often conduct these purges by using inaccurate data, which results in people who don’t fall into the wrong categories also being removed.
A felony conviction comes with drastic consequences, including the loss of the right to vote. However, different states have different laws.
Some ban voting during incarceration, whereas some ban voting for a lifetime. According to research by www.ncsl.org, “In Maine and Vermont, felons never lose their right to vote, even while they are incarcerated.”
The fact that the voting laws vary so dramatically results in the voter facing a lot of misinformation and confusion. Moreover, due to the racial bias in the criminal justice system, the felony disenfranchisement rule affects the Black community more as compared to the white.
Voter Waiting Time
A report reveals that Black voters have to wait for more time as compared to white voters. More than 7% of Black voters say that they have to wait for more than thirty minutes in a voting line, whereas only 4.1% of white voters say that they have to wait in long lines to vote.
Moreover, as per the news by www.prwatch.org, “States like Texas base their criteria for closing polling places in part, on traffic at each voting site.” They disproportionate close polling location in areas with more black residents, because they have lower election participation. As a result, they have fewer places to vote, resulting in the waiting time increase.
Native Americans Voter Suppression
Voting is never easy for Native Americans, especially those who live on rural reservations. Currently, the right to vote is like a rising fight for Native Americans.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 helps Native Americans to protect their voting rights. However, in 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated Section 5 related to pre-clearance, where it becomes difficult to ensure equal access to the ballot. Moreover, due to this reason, the efforts to suppress the vote have increased.
To understand and become aware of the challenges faced by Native American voters, you need to recognize the enormous differences among opportunities, experiences, and realities facing on-reservation as in comparison with non-reservation voters.
It’s seen that turnout for the Native Americans becomes the lowest in the country compared to the other groups of voters. There are various issues that contribute to the low voter turnout.
A study reveals that low levels of trust in government, lack of information on how and where to register and to vote, low levels of access to the Internet, hostility toward Native Americans, and long travel distances to register or to vote are the main obstacles for the Native Americans.
Moreover, changes to voting processes make it further difficult for Native Americans to vote.
Who Does Voter Suppression Benefit?
Republican lawmakers and the corporate donors that fund them get the benefit from voter suppression. These laws are only initiated by Republican lawmakers and approved by Republican-held state legislatures or chambers of Congress with no or little Democratic support.
These voter suppression laws are typically signed by the Republican mayors, governors, or Presidents. The majority of the people support the policies of the Democratic Party.
Due to all this, Democrats turn out at the polls and they tend to win smoothly. Typically, when any party loses an election, they adjust their agenda to be an excellent fit for the people.
However, the Republican Party decides that they will hold their power by preventing Democratic voters from exercising their right to vote.
To argue with these restrictive laws, they use fake pretenses that they are trying to guard the uprightness of voter fraud. But the only problem is that voter fraud is virtually non-existent.
Voter Suppression Examples
In Australia, it is necessary for every citizen to vote. It turns out to be their responsibility to keep their enrollment updated whenever they change their address.
Moreover, it is estimated that about 6% of voters have not enrolled themselves, or enrolled incorrectly. These are mainly disproportionately younger voters who might neglect to register when they attain voting age.
In 2006, the government closed the electoral roll much earlier, whereas, during the previous election, the voter had seven days to update their enrollment.
In Australia, the Prime Minister has the right to determine the date of the election. This rule might put a stop to the new voters from voting in the first election even if they are eligible because the time they get for the enrollment is minimal.
The Australian governments usually take these measures to suppress the younger voters. The reason behind this is that the young voters mostly vote for the Australian Labor Party or Greens.
However, the government never admits that they are trying to suppress voters. Even the Australian electoral commission investigation found that there is no evidence of electoral fraud.
The leftist-leaning lobby group challenged the law in July 2010. Australian High Court considered that case. On the other hand, the majority ruling struck down the untimely closing of the rolls, restoring the old rule that provides voters the time of seven days to arrange or update their enrollments.
Currently, Australian citizens of sixteen or seventeen can enroll themselves online, or they can wait until they turn eighteen.
Before the Canadian 2011 Federal Election, the government started using voter suppression techniques. The government used robocalling and live calls to tell voters that their polling station had been changed.
The fact is that these messages were intentionally false, resulting in voters wasting several hours by reporting to incorrect voting locations.
In an investigation by the Council of Canadians, the federal court investigation showed that someone with access to the Conservative Party’s voter database executed this fraud. However, there was no proof that the Conservative Party or its victorious candidates were involved in that fraud.
In April 2019, during the general elections for the 21st Knesset, the political party Likud installed hidden cameras in polling stations of Arab communities.
In addition, election observers were also having cameras. The Head of the General Elections Committee named Hanan Malcer says that this is illegal.
However, the PR agency Kaizler Inbar obtained all the recognition for the operation. Moreover, they also claimed that the voter turnout in Arab communities decreased by 50%. But there is no confirmation that the cameras had any consequence on voter turnout.
Before the Polish Presidential Elections in2020, the government used voter suppression strategies. The government of the country issued an order that certain groups of voters, for example, elderly voters had the right to find a way around any potential queues and vote first.
Lutfur Rahman was the mayor of Tower hamlets until he needed to get out of office because of breaching electoral rules. His supporters continuously demoralized the voters at the polling station.
Voting By Mail – 2020 US Election
The practice or use of voting by mails is increasing rapidly all over the United States. Twenty-five percent of voters nationwide mailed their ballots from 2016 and 2018.
Moreover, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is predicted that there will be a massive increase in voting by mail. As per the information from Wikipedia, a state-by-state analysis shows that 76% of Americans are eligible to vote by mail in 2020.
With the help of analysis, it can be predicted that 80 million ballots could be cast by mail in 2020. The postal service sent a letter to multiple states in July 2020. It mentions that the service might not be able to meet the deadlines of the state for requesting and casting last-minute absentee ballots.
So, Democrats have proposed an emergency funding of $25 billion to the post office to ease loads of emails. However, Donald Trump does not want to grant any additional funding, and for this, they gave the reason that they want to prevent the increase in balloting by mail.
Reports reveal that in various places of the United States, the mail sorting machines are being removed from the post office. The reason behind this is the new policy imposed by some postmasters, who are major donors of President Donald Trump.
How to Stop Voter Suppression in 2020
If you are reading this article, by now, you know all the key facts about voter suppression. But the main question is what can be done to stop this.
Here is a list of steps that we can follow to vote responsibly and advocate for fair and safe elections.
1. Get Educated
If we want to create a difference, then we need to take some time to read up on what we need to do to vote. There is a website, Vote441, that provides personalized ballots depending on your address and political party.
Every ballot includes information on the candidates, contact information, and policy questions.
2. Create a Plan
Determine how you are going to vote. Do you want to vote by mail, or would you instead vote in person? If you are thinking of voting in person, then check where the nearest polling location is.
If you don’t find any information about it, then contact the local elections board to request more information. Moreover, if you are planning to vote by mail, then you need to know that mail-in voting is not available everywhere. So, if you want to do vote by mail, then first see whether your state allows it or not.
3. Be Ready
We cannot rely on polling locations to protect ourselves. We should be ready for anything and call out bad practices. While going to polling stations, we should wear a mask, carry hand sanitizer, and maintain the proper distance from others.
4. Follow through Vote
If you think your vote does not matter, then you are wrong. Our country has a history of making it seem that people are too insignificant, too Black, too poor, too disabled, too anything, to make a difference.
5. Be a Volunteer to Save Voting Right
The fight does not end on November 3. There are various organizations that fight for voting rights that need our help. So, if you are willing to be a volunteer to save voting rights, then you can join any of the following organizations.
Voter suppression in 2020 is pervasive and can be detrimental to the country. So it does not matter if anyone is trying to stop you to vote, you should have reasons to vote to change the future of America.
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Eli is a Political Data Scientist with over thirty years of experience in Data Engineering, Analytics, and Digital Marketing. Eli uses his expertise to give the latest information and distinctive analysis on US Political News, US Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, and Racial Justice equipping readers with the inequivalent knowledge.