The Coast News Group
Election 2020

Letter: Voter suppression in a democracy — is this a myth?

Voter suppression is a strategy used to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting instead of gaining votes by changing political opinions through persuasion and organizing.

The United States has a long history of blocking certain Americans from voting, which began at the founding of this nation when the right to vote in most states was limited to white male property owners. Non-whites, women, and the non-property-owning poor were excluded. After the Civil War, the 15th Amendment gave voting rights to every man in America, regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

However, from 1890 forward, former Confederate states amended their state constitutions to disenfranchise black voters, especially during the Jim Crow era, when poll taxes, residency requirements, and literacy and comprehension tests were introduced. However, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 changed all this. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled Section 5 of the voting rights act was unenforceable.

So, now some states have stricter voter ID laws such as accepting only certain kinds of IDs, requiring certain kinds of documentation to get IDs, and requiring certain kinds of photos, residency requirements and address requirements, “Intention to stay” requirements, restrictions on voter registration drives, elimination of election day voter registration, voter purges (eligible voters are removed from voter rolls improperly), felony disenfranchisement, closing polling stations early resulting in long lines at voting places.

Currently, while our nation is gripped in a pandemic, many Republicans, including President Trump, have stated that absentee ballots invite voter fraud, a claim many argue is not backed by evidence. In addition, we have seen the United States Postmaster General cut deliveries and order removal of mailboxes and sorting machines in areas with predominately black voters with the excuse of cutting labor costs. This is an active sabotage of our democracy by adding barriers for each of our vote to be received, delivered and counted. No, this is not a myth!

So, we rise against these barriers and vote to elect leaders who will bring sanity to our nation, protect our civil liberties and the environment.

To quote Hamilton X: “Who could envision that 4 years ago that those who sat out numbered a 100 million, a third of us weren’t willing to choose a direction, and 80 thousand voters across three states was all it took to swing the election” So, VOTE wisely.

Narima Lopes