Four Must-Read Reveals on the Shocking Rise of Voter Suppression - And a Six-Point Checklist for Dealing with It
When Jimmy Carter called on Georgia’s GOP Gubernatorial candidate (Brian Kemp) to resign his position as Secretary of State in light of numerous voter-suppression complaints, you didn’t really think that would happen, did you? (Read the full text of Carter's letter.)
But at least President Carter focused much-needed attention on Georgia’s voter-suppression issue. When I saw him trending on Twitter one week before the election, I also noticed that the Megyn Kelly blackface story had waned considerably (down to just 30 tweets per hour).
I’m glad Carter managed to push Kelly to the back pages where she belongs. As Toni Morrison has pointed out, racism is a distraction. Voter suppression, on the other hand, though racially driven, is a form of oppression. It’s a blatant attempt to keep minorities from casting ballots. What follows is fact-based information on the shocking extent of the issue and how to deal with it if you encounter it on Election Day.
1) Voter Suppression Tactics in the Age of Trump
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, ninety-nine bills designed to diminish voter access were introduced last year in thirty-one state legislatures. Many of the recent Republican-led efforts stem from the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby v. Holder. In an opinion that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that discrimination still exists, but not sufficiently to warrant the “extraordinary” remediation measures that the act imposed on the states of the former Confederacy. (More via The New Yorker)
2) How Democrats Can Reverse Years of Voter Suppression
(This one is very helpful because it includes six specific ideas for legislation that can turn the current political environment around.) Rather than begin with a radical step like court packing, Democrats could, by simple majority, vote to adopt a procedure whereby all future voting rights measures need only a simple majority to pass. Not only would killing off the filibuster here be the exact same move that Republicans used to allow for the majority votes on Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, Democrats could correctly claim that such a move will further the values of equality embedded in the 14th and 15th amendments of the Constitution. (More via Slate)
3) The GOP’s Sneakiest Voter Suppression Tactic
Over the past decade, Republican elections officials have been shuttering polling places in minority neighborhoods, low-income districts, and on college campuses at a feverish pace. When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the U.S. had more than 132,000 polling places; by the time Donald Trump ascended to the White House eight years later more than 15,000 of them had been closed nationwide. After 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court basically lifted federal Voting Rights Act oversight from states that were particularly notorious for racial discrimination in elections—including Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Texas—the pace of poll closures went into hyperdrive. Thanks to Shelby County v. Holder, if you ran elections in a majority-black county in Georgia, or a booming Latino neighborhood in Houston, you no longer had to ask the Department of Justice to approve a change in where people could vote, or to prove the intent wasn’t discriminatory (More via The New Republic)
4) Voter Suppression, A Southern Tradition, Still Flourishes:
A Brief History
With black populations ranging from 25 percent to nearly 60 percent of southern state populations, black voting power upended politics as usual after the Civil War.
During Reconstruction, well over 1,400 African-Americans were elected to local, state and federal office, 16 of whom served in Congress… Over the past decade, Republican lawmakers have chipped away at the last century’s advances, enacting voter ID laws that make it harder to vote.
Claiming they seek to deter election fraud, some 20 states have restricted early voting or passed laws requiring people to show government ID before voting.
Voter identification laws have hidden costs, research shows. Getting a government ID means traveling to state agencies, acquiring birth certificates and taking time off work. That puts it out of reach for many, a kind of 21st-century poll tax. (More via PBS)
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: A SIX-POINT CHECKLIST
1) Verify your registration status and find your voting place. In some cases polling places have changed. Be sure to go to the correct address or you will not be allowed to vote.
2). Make sure you have an acceptable form of Voter ID. The definition of valid Voter ID differs by state. Here's a state-by-state list.
3) If you believe you’re properly registered but are told you’re not, FILE A PROVISIONAL BALLOT.
4) If your voting machine changes your vote before you leave the booth, CALL A POLLING PLACE OFFICIAL TO YOUR BOOTH AND REPORT THE PROBLEM IMMEDIATELY. This may be a “calibration issue,” which can be easily fixed on site. Or you can ask to be directed to a different booth.
5) If you need a ride, call your candidate's office or party affiliate to see if there's a ride sharing program. Also, in some communities Uber and Lyft are providing free rides to the polls on Election Day.
6) Vote early if you can to avoid potentially long lines on Election Day.
Here's a brief interview with Emory University Professor Carol Anderson on the impact of Voter Suppression since the recent Supreme Court Decision to Gut the Voting Rights Act of 1965
I'm a storyteller whose background includes talk radio, newspapers and TV news. I've hosted a morning-drive classical music program on the California coast and published nationally in Reader's Digest, the Christian Science Monitor, and Playboy. I've won awards for my journalism and my fiction. One of my essays even made it into an anthology for college English courses. For real? Yes, for real.
To be notified of new posts to this blog
If you’re reading this website, think of me as a troubadour standing on the street corner, strumming a guitar and singing a few songs. Not everyone who comes this way is able to make contribution. But if you’re one of the passers-by who can, then feel free to drop a little spare change in my hat by clicking either the Donate or the Become a Patron button below.