Ending Voter Suppression

For a very long time Republicans have engaged in massive long-term voter suppression. Recently President Trump said we can’t let more people vote because if we did, Republicans would never win. Voter suppression is a strategy used to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting. It is distinguished from political campaigning in that campaigning attempts to change likely voting behavior by changing the opinions of potential voters through persuasion and organization, activating otherwise inactive voters, or registering new supporters. Voter suppression, instead, attempts to reduce the number of voters who might vote against a candidate or proposition.

The tactics of voter suppression range from minor changes to make voting less convenient, to physically intimidating and even physically attacking prospective voters, which is illegal. Voter suppression can be effective if a significant number of voters are intimidated or disenfranchised. In 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Shelby v. Holder that voting laws had resulted in voter suppression and discrimination.

Voter suppression appears in many forms, including:

1. Unconstitutional ballot access laws: Too many states have imposed unconstitutional ballot access laws featuring poll taxes; what is a poll tax? The U.S. Supreme Court says:

2. Selective distribution of voting machines: It is a historical fact that black/minority neighborhoods/polling stations have been denied a sufficient number of voting machines – drive across town to the white voting centers and there are little to no lines and plenty of voting machines.

3. Republicans using the courts to maliciously and criminally remove voters from the voter rolls. Between 2016 and 2018, over 17 million names were purged from voter rolls across the United States.

4. In Texas, a voter ID law requiring a driver’s license, passport, military identification, or gun permit, was repeatedly found to be intentionally discriminatory. The state’s election laws could be put back under the control of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, the DOJ has expressed support for Texas’s ID law. Sessions was accused by Coretta Scott King in 1986 of trying to suppress the black vote. A similar ID law in North Dakota, which would have disenfranchised large numbers of Native Americans, was also overturned.

In Wisconsin, a federal judge found that the state’s restrictive voter ID law led to “real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities”; and, given that there was no evidence of widespread voter impersonation in Wisconsin, found that the law was “a cure worse than the disease.” In addition to imposing strict voter ID requirements, the law cut back on early voting, required people to live in a ward for at least 28 days before voting, and prohibited emailing absentee ballots to voters.

Other controversial measures include shutting down Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in minority neighborhoods, making it more difficult for residents to obtain voter IDs; shutting down polling places in minority neighborhoods; systematically depriving precincts in minority neighborhoods of the resources they need to operate efficiently, such as poll workers and voting machines; and purging voters from the rolls shortly before an election.

Often, voter fraud is cited as a justification for such laws even when the incidence of voter fraud is low. In Iowa, lawmakers passed a strict voter ID law with the potential to disenfranchise 260,000 voters. Out of 1.6 million votes cast in Iowa in 2016, there were only 10 allegations of voter fraud; none were cases of impersonation that a voter ID law could have prevented. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, the architect of the bill, admitted, “We’ve not experienced widespread voter fraud in Iowa.”

Limitations on early and absentee voting

In North Carolina, Republican lawmakers requested data on various voting practices, broken down by race. They then passed laws that restricted voting and registration many ways that disproportionately affected African Americans, including cutting back on early voting. In a 2016 appellate court case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down a law that removed the first week of early voting. The court held that the GOP used the data they gathered to remove the first week of early voting because more African American voters voted during that week, and African American voters were more likely to vote for Democrats. Between 2008 and 2012 in North Carolina, 70% of African American voters voted early. After cuts to early voting, African American turnout in early voting was down by 8.7% (around 66,000 votes) in North Carolina.

As of 2020, Georgia requires absentee voters to provide their own postage for their ballots. On April 8, 2020, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging this rule, claiming it “is tantamount to a poll tax.”

Voting procedure disinformation

Voting procedure disinformation involves giving voters false information about when and how to vote, leading them to fail to cast valid ballots.

For example, in recall elections for the Wisconsin State Senate in 2011, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group founded in 2004 by brothers Charles and David Koch to support Republican candidates and causes in the United States, sent many Democratic voters a mailing that gave an incorrect deadline for returning absentee ballots. Voters who relied on the deadline in the mailing could have sent in their ballots too late for them to be counted. The organization claimed that it was caused by a typographical error.

Just prior to the 2018 elections, The New York Times warned readers of numerous types of deliberate misinformation, sometimes targeting specific voter demographics. These types of disinformation included false information about casting ballots online by email and by text message, the circulation of doctored photographs in 2016 which claimed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were arresting voters at polling places and included threatening language meant to intimidate Latino voters, polling place hoaxes, disinformation on remote voting options, suspicious texts, voting machine malfunction rumors, misleading photos and videos, and false voter fraud allegations.

The Times added that messages purportedly sent by Trump to voters in Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, and Georgia were actually disseminated from Republican organizations. In 2018, Trump actually spread information about defective machines in a single Utah county, giving the impression that such difficulties were occurring nationwide.

We The Voters can transcend these and other voter suppression techniques by implementing Social Security Voting.

Polling stations and mail-in ballots are no match for the effiency and inclusivity of Social Security Voting.

The number one objection to online voting is security concerns. The reality is, technology does provide a virtually fail-safe, hack-proof system featuring verified voting.

Support Social Security Voting.