• Jackie Vanegas

The Dark Truth About the Right to Vote

Photo Credit: Keith Ivey/flickr/cc

As Americans, one of our guaranteed rights is the right to vote. But what if the right to vote, one of the most basic rights we have, is not even assured? This is the reality for some Americans throughout the country.

Certain communities are particularly affected by voter suppression and even blatantly targeted. Many of whom are people of color, students, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

An example of suppression is this: one-third of voters who have a disability report difficulty voting and only 40 percent of polling places fully accommodate people with disabilities.

Believe it or not, as time progresses it is getting even harder to vote. And the issue of voter suppression is substantially rising.

In 1965, the monumental Voting Rights act was passed to ensure state and local governments do not pass laws or policies that deny American citizens the equal right to vote based on race. However, in 2013 the Supreme Court stripped away this key provision of this landmark civil rights law in Shelby County v. Holder.

Imagine that. The fact that one of the most basic rights guaranteed within this country is still not assured to you. Stripping away not only your rights but your voice and power as an American citizen.

It gets worse.

Voter purging has been on the rise lately.

According to a report by the Brennan Center, In the past five years, four states have engaged in illegal purges- including Florida and another four states which have implemented unlawful purge rules. This is mostly due to the fact that states use inaccurate information and certain “activist” groups pressing for more aggressive purges.

In Arkansas, the secretary of state provided a list to the state’s 75 county clerks suggesting that more than 7,700 names be removed from the rolls because of supposed felony convictions. However, that roster proved to be wrong and included people who had never been convicted of a felony, as well as persons with past convictions whose voting rights had been restored.

Sadly, there is more.

Voter intimidation and harassment is also on the rise.

Within the 2018 midterm elections in Florida, residents received a fake robocall alleging to be from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum startling people with a background noise of donkey and drums. However, this call was made from a white supremacist from Idaho attempting to deter voters from going out to the polls.

Unfortunately, issues such as voter confusion, poll closures, malfunctioning voting equipment and more are one of the few of many issues that make voting less accessible.

As a result of this, it is imperative that we press lawmakers to ensure that our voting rights are protected.

Protect Democracy, an organization that strives to ensure democratic ideals are enforced in this country, offers constructive, useful tips in order to avoid voter suppression. In fact, they suggest that “enacting legislation to create automatic registration, make voter registration portable between every state, and require that polling location and registration status be available online” would greatly contribute to making sure that everyone gets a chance of getting their voice heard.

Voter suppression should not be a partisan issue. Instead, politicians should recognize the severity of this issue not only because it is a guaranteed right, but also because it is one of the pillars that uphold our democracy.

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