Voter suppression is a real serious concern, and it happens all over the country. It can happen any place. Some tactics may seem so subtle or innocuous, they may not be viewed as a type of voter suppression. Let me use myself as an example.
I have been living in the same place since 2004. The voting venue has changed two times in the last three years. Up until 2017, I voted a few yards from my home at an elementary school. It was quite convenient. In 2019, the location changed to a church about three miles away. I received a noticed last week that it’s back at the elementary school. Fortunately I pay attention. I wonder if the change in venue impedes anybody’s ability to vote, particularly people who don’t drive. The stated reason for the change in venue in this instance was a conflict in scheduling. Whatever the reason, I’d still view it as a form of voter suppression.
When we get into a discussion of voter suppression, the conversation is usually about more egregious tactics than changing the venue. Some states have some type of ID requirement, some of which require only government-issued ID to vote. In addition, some states have strict voter registration requirements, mandating proof of citizenship, limiting the window of time in which a voter must register before the election.
A very controversial type of voter suppression is the purging of voter lists. I recall hearing about people showing up to vote, only to discover their name wasn’t on the books. They were given provisional ballots while their registration was later verified. But I always wonder if provisional ballots are counted. If I am a candidate, I wouldn’t want to win under a cloud of controversy. I would want the win to be fair and legitimate. But obviously, not all politicians feel that way.
A common type of voter suppression is gerrymandering. It often looks as if voting districts change to favor one candidate over another. Gerrymandering does have a legitimate purpose – district lines get redrawn to reflect population changes and racial diversity. One community in Wisconsin was about three miles of woods. Now there are houses, apartments, businesses, schools, and gerrymandering would be warranted in that situation so that the voting district more accurately reflects the people who live in the community. But let’s face it. Oftentimes, states use redistricting as a political tool to manipulate the outcome of elections, voter suppression at its finest.
It’s important for people to report any suspected violations of voting laws, do so here. Don’t worry if you are wrong. Just file the complaint. Let the investigators determine the validity of your complaint. The only way to stop it is if we stand up to it. This is an important election, so expect to see lots of examples of voter suppression and voter intimidation.
In addition to the Office of President, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 50 Senate seats are up for re-election. It’s a high-stakes voting year. So, don’t let them stop your vote.