The Attack on Voting Rights

Alright, folks, this is going to be a little lengthy. In fact, I am going to break this up into two separate posts. There is a lot to cover and I literally cannot think of a more important issue: voting rights.

Why? All power that we the people have to create change on any other issue ultimately flows from our ability to make our voices heard when we cast our ballots. We are a representative democracy so while we can register our opinions through political action and advocacy, in opinion polls, through lobbying groups, etc…ultimately, it is the people we elect to represent us who ultimately effectuate (or don’t) the progress we hope to see and the reason they are inclined to listen to their constituents when we engage in that advocacy is that, in theory, they are still beholden to us when election day comes around.

All of this is only possible if we are able to exercise our right to vote.

Understanding that demographically, they are still the minority party and the trend line is not in their favor in many states, Republicans have gone to work in state legislatures across the country, seeking to make it more difficult for those who oppose them to exercise this sacred right. The bottom line is simple but true, smaller voting pools benefit Republicans, while larger voting pools benefit Democrats. Thus, since the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, there has been an ongoing battle wherein Democrats seek to lower barriers and expand voter access and Republicans do the exact opposite.

This year alone, legislators in 48 states have introduced 389 bills that would restrict access to the voting booth. These bills do things like make it harder to vote absentee, purge registered voters from the rolls, and even make it illegal to provide food or water to people waiting in line to vote. Lest you think the Republicans are engaging in a good-faith effort to protect the sanctity of elections, look no further than Texas where the Republican-dominated legislature allowed handgun licenses to be used as acceptable ID at polling locations, but prohibited people from using student IDs, even if issued by the state’s own universities.

When you are the party of old, rich white men and your country is rapidly diversifying, you have two options: figure out how to appeal to a broader base or make it harder for the broader base to vote. Republicans have enthusiastically picked door number 2.

So you are now caught up on the background that led up to the events that unfolded in June as the Senate sought unsuccessfully to pass the For the People Act. In the next post, we will talk about how that went down, the potential fallout, and what is next in the fight to protect our right to vote.