What is Voter Suppression?
Voter suppression is any effort, either legal or illegal, by way of laws, administrative rules, or tactics that prevents eligible voters from voting. You might be asking yourself...
WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO STOP PEOPLE FROM VOTING?
Quite simply, voter suppression exists to stop voters who historically vote for Democratic candidates from voting.
WHO ARE THE TARGETS OF VOTER SUPPRESSION?
People of color are disproportionately affected by all forms of voter suppression. But, regardless of ethnicity, it also targets the elderly, students, trans and/or married women, and the poor.
WHO DOES VOTER SUPPRESSION BENEFIT?
Republicans. Full stop. There is no better way for the Republicans to stay in power than to keep their opponents from voting them out of office. They know they cannot win an honest fight, so they have to cheat to win.
Voter suppression laws are proposed by Republican state and federal lawmakers. They are passed in Republican-controlled Houses of state and federal government. And they are signed into law by Republican governors and Presidents. You will not find a true Democrat who co-sponsored or voted in favor of a voter suppression measure.
Republicans claim these laws are to protect the integrity of our elections from "VOTER FRAUD". The only problem is...
VOTER FRAUD DOES NOT EXIST
Justin Levitt's 2014 study found 31 cases between the years of 2000 to 2014 out of ONE BILLION VOTES. And if you need to see more proof then read the Brennan Center for Justice's extensive report on THE MYTH OF VOTER FRAUD. But, despite the absence of any legitimate problem, the Republicans persist.
WHAT DOES VOTER SUPPRESSION LOOK LIKE?
VOTER I.D. LAWS - Proponents of these laws claim that ANYONE can just get an I.D. And many states offer them for free. However, free I.D.s have hidden costs and in most cases they are not necessarily easy to get. Not everyone has a car. Not everyone lives close to an I.D. office. Not everyone has the money or time to take a day off from work to get an I.D. Not everyone has access or the money to pay for the documents needed to get an I.D. A recent study found that between 9,000 and 23,000 registered voters were deterred from voting in Wisconsin in 2016. For more, read about the Truth About Voter I.D.
PURGING THE VOTER ROLLS - The country's top vote suppressor; Kanas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, who has been successfully sued by the ACLU four times for suppressing the vote, created what is known as CROSSCHECK. On its face, Crosscheck is alleged to be a benevolent program that compares voter roll data from state to state and removes duplicate entries to clean up the voter rolls. But, what really happens is that people show up to vote only to find that they have been purged. A Stanford study found that for every legitimate match Crosscheck it finds it produces nearly 200 false positives.
Another method is the "Use it or Lose it" purge. States like Ohio purge voters from the voter rolls if they do not vote for a period of time. And with a notorious vote suppressor as our U.S. Attorney General we cannot expect relief from the DOJ.
LIMITING EARLY VOTING - Nearly every Election is held on a Tuesday. Early voting allows people to vote multiple days or weeks before an Election. And states with early voting have seen a dramatic increase in voter turnout. People with multiple jobs or who have limited time to get away are able to find a time that works in the expanded voting window. When those early voting days and hours are cuts, turnout decreases.
FELON DISENFRANCHISEMENT - In every state, but two, a voter automatically loses the right to vote when they are convicted of a felony. In some states that right is lost forever. In others, voters must request to have that right restored. The concept of prison is that you do your time then your debt is paid to society. Adding obstacles to voting once a voter has served their time extends their prison sentence because they still do not have the same rights as every other citizen. Click HERE for more info.
GERRYMANDERING - Electoral districts are drawn to favor one party, in this case, the Republicans. The GOP has gotten quite good at drawing districts that will ensure they stay in power. The Democrats may get the most votes, but it will be the GOP candidate that wins. This is one of the greatest threats to our Democracy because it denies legitimate representation in government. Click HERE for more info.
UNDERFUND ELECTION DAY RESOURCES - Elections are paid for at the local level. So, If a county or district understaffs and underequips polling places or closes them completely, this results in longer lines and longer wait times which can then lead to people being unable to wait and therefore effectively denies them the right to vote.
CLOSING ID OFFICES - If you close state and county offices where voters can obtain IDs it makes it harder for them to obtain the required ID to vote thus effectively denying them the right to vote.
DISINFORMATION - Voters receive official looking mailers with incorrect information on them like deadlines, polling places, and election times and dates. For example, during the 2011 Wisconsin recall election, the Koch-backed group Americans For Prosperity sent mailers to predominantly Democratic areas telling them to make sure their absentee ballots were in by August 11. The actual deadline was August 9.
OFF YEAR ELECTIONS - Off year elections have historically low turnout. By setting elections on off-years it makes it easier for well-organized and well-funded interest groups to push their policy initiatives through.
CAGING LISTS - A political party will send registered letters the addresses of people of the opposite party and if the letters are returned undeliverable then they challenge the legitimacy of that voter. The reality is that the voter may have just moved and never updated their address. Click HERE for more info.
Voter suppression is a continuation of the fight against Civil Rights because it disproportionately targets people of color in the name of curing a disease that doesn't exist. It is a threat to a legitimate representational democracy and we need to vote out any elected official that sponsors or votes "YES" on a voter suppression law.