“Our ability to participate in government, to elect our leaders and to improve our lives is contingent upon our ability to access the ballot.”Stacey Abrams, Fair Fight 2020
Since the passage of the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution, our government has erected obstacles to prevent us from voting. Early efforts to suppress the votes of people of color included literacy tests, poll taxes, and straight up violence and intimidation. Contemporary voter suppression, which includes identification requirements, last-minute polling site changes, and voter roll purging. Blatant intimidation, while more obvious in its racism, has had similar effects.
Voter suppression continues even beyond the ballot box, as the elite use government systems to manipulate the representative makeup of our legislative institutions (i.e., the House of Representatives, Senate, and state legislatures). Through the practice of “gerrymandering,” the wealthy elite actively diminish the democratic representation of people of color by concentrating us into single legislative districts (despite the vast geographic areas we occupy). Recently, courts have found this practice to be a violation of the Voting Rights Act, and have ruled that states (most recently Pennsylvania and North Carolina) throw out their congressional maps and redraw them to comply with federal law. Voter suppression must end! Help us identify the right policies that will put us on that path. Here are some ideas we have identified so far:
Policies for Consideration:
- Improve voter access (automatic voter registration, expand early voting and simplify absentee voting, and modernize voting systems)
- Promote integrity (prohibit voter purges, end partisan gerrymandering)
- Ensure security (make paper ballots available and implement a national strategy to protect our elections from foreign influence)