Throughout last week’s news cycle, a very common and concerning issue came to the forefront once again. This time, there was a new set of voter suppression issues from the Georgia gubernatorial race. With Election Day less than a month away and a hotly contested race for the governorship of Georgia, over 50,000 Georgian voter applications were put on hold. Two thirds of those applications put on hold belong to African Americans. Pretty convenient that voter suppression laws almost always disproportionately affect minority groups, who usually tend to vote Democratic. Now I’m not saying that this is voter suppression. But if it smells like fish, and looks like fish, then it’s probably a fish. I’m also not saying that there is a massive conflict of interest in the Georgia race, when the Republican nominee also happens to be the Secretary of State, the person who oversees the election, but if the shoes fits.
Look, what is happening in Georgia is unfortunately nothing new. Voter suppression has been pretty common in elections. Suppression of a group of peoples vote is a huge attack on a functioning democracy, by taking away people’s right to vote you take away their voice. Our elected representatives should be chosen by all, not by some. But time and time again republicans have made it harder and harder for people who would not originally be voting for them to even vote in the first place. And they try to do it in sly little ways and provide weak explanations and reasons for their laws. As small as they might be, it doesn’t make them any less dangerous.
One of the biggest ways Republicans try to suppress votes is through purging voters. Take an Ohio policy upheld by the Supreme Court, if you don’t vote in two elections you’re sent a notice, if you don’t respond to that notice then you are de-registered to vote. This policy, in one of the country’s biggest and most influential swing states, is ludicrous. Just because someone might not take advantage of their right, it doesn’t mean they should be kicked from using that right. Just because someone doesn’t use their right doesn’t mean they should lose it, or have to jump through extra hoops to use that right again. People are given one notice to stay registered, just one before they are purged. This really serves no other purpose than to make some people’s lives harder. Our government should not be making it harder for people who choose not to vote by purging them in the first place. If someone registers and doesn’t vote, they shouldn’t have to work harder to vote in an election if they choose to do so.
There are multiple other policies such as closing polling stations in communities of color, excluding felons from voting, enacting voting ID laws, and removing early voting. All of them are given thin excuses for existing, but all pointing toward some form of voting fraud. Voting fraud has been spewed by the right as some massive issue affecting our elections. In reality, it is a flat out lie meant to enact laws to suppress opposition votes. Yes there have been a few cases, but they are extremely rare, and claims of mass voting fraud have no base in reality. A multitude of studies have found “examination after examination of voter fraud claims reveal fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is nearly non-existent, and much of the problems associated with alleged fraud relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators,” (Brennan Center for Justice). It is an obvious attempt to make sure a certain group of people can’t and don’t vote. Our elections have not and will continue to not be fair and free as long as Republicans keep enacting more voting suppression laws.