Voter Suppression: Considering Voter Suppression in Multiple States and Why It Is a Problem

Next month Americans will be voting for the midterm elections. It is not a presidential election, so it does not appear to be a big deal. However, the off year elections are of great importance. Many of the officials on this years  ballot will serve in a much closer relation with their constituents. But it is also an opportunity to change the tide of federal congress by electing a majority of democratic senators. Every opportunity to cast a vote is precious and it is something all Americans should do.

It is typical for debate to arise in this political season. One of those debates being, “is voting a right or a privilege?” Those that maintain the viewpoint of the latter  will argue that educated, caring voters will take the extra steps to maintain their registration status, and get themselves to the polls. They would also not name “voter suppression.” But it is real and it is problematic. Voter suppression takes many forms: limited registration opportunities, multiple forms of voter identification, no same-day voter registration, shorter absentee vote periods, and the elimination of early voting. Unfortunately, these restrictions grew stronger after minority voter participation grew in the 2008 election. In Ohio, for example, the absentee voting period has gone from 35 days to 17 days. More and more states are requiring one, or even multiple, government issued photo ID. According to ACLU, eligible minority voters are twenty percent more likely to lack such an ID. Thus creating a roadblock for the voters. Traditionally, minority voters often take a progressive stance and support democrats. Voter suppression is ultimately the silencing of progressive voters.

This year, Georgia is the state that is most clearly struggling on the voting rights issue. The governor race is between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. However, Kemp is also Georgia’s Secretary of State, therefore currently in charge of the states voting systems and practices. It seems unfitting and unfair to many voters. However, Kemp refuses to step down and has even been documented voicing his complaints concerning an increase of black voters coming to the polls this election cycle. Since 2012 over two-hundred voting locations in lower income and minority communities of Georgia have closed. Secretary Kemp has stated that the alleged voter suppression is a farce and that he is simply trying to ensure only American citizens cast a ballot. Yet barely half of Americans turn out to vote, so should the concern not be on helping all the other American submit their ballots?  That is, if we want a functioning democracy.