An admission: as an upper-class white male in an unflinchingly Blue state, I was previously naive about the extent to which voter disenfranchisement had already impacted our country over the past decade. But the 2016 Presidential elections, along with a set of court cases in the aftermath of 2013’s Voter Rights Act changes, convinced me the GOP is accelerating their attempts to limit opposition voting. So for 2017, and beyond, I’m interested in putting sweat and dollars behind voter rights. Attacking the ability for American citizens to easily participate in the political process isn’t just unconscionable, but strikes me as symbolically treasonous. Since my understanding of these issues is still evolving, here’s how I currently interpret what’s happening:
- GOP leadership understands that many of the voters who turned out for Trump are not tried and true Republicans who can be counted on to support their candidates ongoing. The ubernarrative of the country’s demographics tilting towards populations which typically vote independent/Democratic is real (young, Hispanic, urban, female).
- Accordingly 2017–18, years when the GOP controls Presidency, Senate and House, will be used to accelerate tactics which fight back against the demographic shifts. To be clear, they will try to tilt electoral odds via implicit and explicit voter suppression. This includes:
- Gerrymandering and Redistricting: A tactic used by both parties historically (and I’m equally contemptuous when Democrats employ these tactics) has been put on steroids by the Republicans (citation). Now that many racial-protection parts of the Voter Rights Act have been removed, the GOP has employed tactics that even courts have struck down (example, 2016 Supreme Court decision on Texas).
- State Level Voter ID Laws: To combat non-existent “voter fraud” there will be an increase in chilling effect-type laws regarding what type of ID is required in order to vote. For example, Texas lets you use a gun license but not a Student ID (given that gun owners skew GOP and students DEM).
- Cutting Back Early Voting; Nearly 900 Fewer Voting Locations in 2016 — again disproportionately targeting students, urban; Increasing qualifications on Native American voters; and the like. NC GOP on record as thrilled they were able to reduce Black voter turnout.
- Cutting back on immigration and social services in general, limiting populations which aren’t traditional GOP voters. Like what? How about Alabama closing DMVs in black neighborhoods and the ancillary impacts?
- So as Jeff Sessions is put in as Attorney General, with his HORRIBLE and discriminatory voting rights track record, and the Trump administration continues to push a “millions of illegal voters” narrative, it’s setting the path for continued legislative steps towards continued disenfranchisement. And must be stopped.
Ok, if you’re sufficiently pissed, here what you can do:
- Let America Vote is a new effort from Jason Kander, former Missouri Secretary of State. They’re just getting started but Jason seems like the real deal.
- ACLU counts Voting Rights as one of their major issue areas. So continue donating.
- The National Democratic Redistricting Committee is being led by former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder and will be fighting back on gerrymandering. Sign up for more info and donate there as well.
- The Brennan Center for Justice is another group focused on voting rights and legislation.
- Keep an eye out for voter rights changes at your local state level and fight back
No matter what your political or social beliefs, I hope you will fight for the right of every citizen to vote.