Written by: Mary Lee
Every Election Day, voters are still being systematically silenced. And minorities are disproportionately affected. A recent report from the Associated Press shows Justin Clark, a top adviser for President Trump’s re-election campaign, caught on tape. “Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in place,” said Clark. “Let’s start playing offense a little bit. That’s what you’re going to see in 2020.” It’s clear that there is no law that the Trump administration will not try to bend or ignore to try to win the presidency.
Suppression efforts include strict voter ID laws, where you must present one of a limited set of government issued forms in order to cast a ballot. Over 21 millions U.S. citizens do not have government-issued photo identification because it is not accessible to everyone. ID cards are costly and are significant burdens on people in lower-income communications.
A felony conviction can mean the loss of your right to vote. Due to racial bias in the criminal justice system, felony disenfranchisement laws disproportionately affect Black people, who often face harsher sentences than white people for the same offenses. Iowa has the most disproportionate incarceration rate of black people in the nation which results in the disenfranchisement of an estimated one in four voting-age black men.
Every 10 years, states redraw district lines based on population data gathered in the census. But states often gerrymander. They use redistricting as a political tool to manipulate political outcomes which results in a compromised democracy that stifles the voices of millions and does not reflect the will of the people. In April, the Trump administration conducted the 2020 census, and states used its results to redraw district lines across the country. The purpose of the census is to count EVERYONE in this country, including noncitizens, to correctly apportion representation and public funds. But Trump wanted to reduce census participation by immigrant communities, stunt their political influence and deprive them of economic benefits by adding a citizenship question to the census. He clearly is not afraid of targeting minorities.
These are just a few of the many tactics the government utilizes to suppress voters. States should use automatic, online, and same-day voter registration to encourage instead of suppress voting and to reduce chances of error. States must also enforce the protections of the Voting Rights Act, and individuals should know their rights and tell their senators to pass VRAA, which would reinstate critical protections against voter suppression.