Voter Suppression Is Happening––What You Need To Know
While I’d love to write a whole damn opinion piece about our president removing his face mask and gasping for air in front of the White House in a ridiculous attempt to pretend he’s “beaten” the coronavirus last Monday, I have a much more important topic to discuss today.
Did y’all know that voter fraud is super duper real and we need to be very, very afraid of it?! Well it is, and we do. Why? Because when Donald Trump says something is true, it just has to be.
Give me a fucking break, DT.
Our ultimate bully-in-chief is hell bent on fear mongering every single topic he can get his COVID-19 infected hands on, including but not limited to mocking people who take COVID seriously, railing against racial justice protestors, screaming “Antifa!” at every possible moment, getting the Proud Boys all riled up, and letting his campaign chide Joe Biden for not getting COVID. And now, he’s on the war path to defeat the elusive threat of voter fraud in this year’s election.
Except, there’s one teeny tiny problem. Voter fraud isn’t a significant reality in America. In fact, according to the right-wing Heritage Foundation, out of the TWO BILLION votes that they have tracked over a 36-year period, there have been less than 1,300 cases of proven voter fraud. Which basically means that out of roughly 154 MILLION ballots, there could potentially be ONE CASE of legitimate voter fraud to report.
As Trump makes his second round of baseless claims again about spotting this political unicorn in the wild and encourages his base to intimidate voters at the polls this year (which is a felony), he is also keeping us from focusing on the actual threat at hand — voter suppression.
Let’s play a little game called “Who the fuck said this after his 2016 presidential inauguration?” I know you’re ready, because the answer is not going to be that difficult for you to guess.
“Many Blacks didn’t go out to vote for Hillary ‘cause they liked me. That was almost as good as getting the vote, you know, and it was great.”
Have you figured it out yet? If you haven’t, I’ll give you a little hint. It’s the same lame ass who is currently parading around the White House, most likely without a mask, and potentially giving everyone around him coronavirus.
These are the words Donald Trump reportedly said back in 2016 in a leaked audio recording that was acquired by POLITICO. He’s referring to the decreased voter turnout among Black Americans which directly helped him win the 2016 election. And it’s important to note that he said this to a room packed with civil rights leaders, the vast majority of which were Black folks.
Which begs the question — why am I trying to connect this shitty comment made by Trump to the grave issue of voter suppression running rampant in America?
Because Black Americans, along with communities of color, disabled individuals, and Indigenous people are the main targets of voter suppression, and Donald Trump knows it. Our president, of course, doesn’t want us talking about this, because the long-term suppression of Black American voters that led to low voter turnout is what he’s claiming helped him win back in 2016. And we all know that Trump loves being a winner, even if it means screwing over Black people and bolstering white supremacist groups in the process.
But what our commander-in-chief won’t tell you is that 2016 also happened to be the first election year since the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, and the new voting restrictions that got put in place in a bunch of states literally drove down turnout among those who usually vote Democratic — including Black communities.
No matter how you slice it, voter suppression is an uphill battle that still keeps tons of citizens from being able to exercise their right — and privilege — to vote. A 2019 report released by the civil rights coalition The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights found that 1,688 polling locations were shut down across the country after the Supreme Court invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Analyzing data from 2016 that spanned 757 counties, the researchers found that nearly 40% of those counties had reduced polling locations between 2012 and 2018. The most twisted part? Many of these closures happened in the exact areas that have a particularly nasty history of racial discrimination, thus even further preventing Black voters and voters of color from electing the candidate of their choice.
The Voting Rights Alliance is a national network of organizations, activists, and legislators who, unlike our president, are admirably fighting to restore and advocate for voting rights in places where people do not have easy, available access to make sure their ballots count. And when a multi-pronged attack occurred during Trump’s 2016 campaign to suppress votes in marginalized communities, leaders and activists took swift action to launch both the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus and the Voting Rights Alliance to gain momentum in protecting voters’ rights.
Here is what the VRA had to say about the 2020 primary election:
“Kentucky only had one in-person voting poll for all of their 600,000 voters [in] Louisville and one in-person voting poll for Kentucky’s second largest city, Lexington,” writes Daryl D. Jones, a Board Chair for the Transformative Justice Coalition. “Georgia [has] single handedly displayed the most outrageously poorly organized in-person voting polls in America. Many who requested mail-in ballots never got them. Polling places [were] reduced and moved. Voting lines snaking for extended distances… [Texas] has succeeded in spearing voters by demanding that anyone under sixty-five years of age not be able to use [the] Coronavirus Pandemic as a reason to be able to cast a vote by mail… the [Pennsylvania] Secretary of State permitted drop boxes, as advocated by the Transformative Justice Coalition, as an option to in-person voting and the result was a better than predicted performance by the Black Community. Some members of the Pennsylvania legislature have now filed a lawsuit to disallow drop boxes in the general election.”
But wait — there’s more! According to the ACLU, 70% of suppressed Georgia voters in 2018 were Black, and 1 in 13 Black Americans cannot vote because of disenfranchisement laws. One-third of voters living with disabilities also experience difficulty voting and only 40% of polling places fully accommodate folks with disabilities. Areas with larger minority communities have less polling locations and workers available, and even our country’s college students are struggling — because while they are legally allowed to vote, they often can’t due to certain states requiring a driver’s license in order to cast a ballot.
“This is perhaps the most consequential election for African Americans and people of color since the election of 1860, or at least since 1960 or 1964,” says Bertrall Ross, the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the UC Berkeley School of Law, in an article for Berkley News. “What we’re seeing in the campaign now is the same voter suppression practices we have seen historically to target African Americans and other people of color. But this time, those who promote voter suppression will have the pandemic as both a justification for voter suppression practices and a tool to support the practices.”
As if all of this wasn’t fucked up enough, states like Florida are also still enacting modern-day poll taxes that threaten citizens with limited wealth from being able to easily vote, and voters in many areas have faced exorbitantly long lines, broken machines on election day, and limited access to absentee and mail-in voting. In case anyone needs more tangible proof of voter suppression to share with those family members who think Donald Trump is the ultimate truth teller, look no further than the VRA’s extensive list on their site.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, states: “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his/her country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.”
I don’t think it would make one lick of difference, but maybe someone in the Oval Office should read this declaration to Donald Trump instead of encouraging him to continue on persuading Americans to believe that voter fraud is more problematic than his tax returns. Please remember the bigger picture here, everyone. Voter suppression is the real threat to our democracy, and our president doesn’t give two shits about it. Why? Because it directly helped him win an election.
Don’t let it help him win another one.
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