The War on the American Voter

More than 400 voter restriction bills have been introduced in 49 states this year. Within the first seven months of 2021, 18 states have implemented 30 laws that will restrict access to voting.

Voting rights.

In America, it should be a given. After all, what is a democracy without free elections, and every vote having been counted? It’s the people’s right to speak and be heard.

It’s a social justice issue.

Without counted votes, there is no democracy. There is no, “us”. There is no voice for the unheard, the tree falls in the forest without a witness.

It’s what our Founding Fathers wanted, right? It’s in the Constitution. That’s what they fought and bled and died for, isn’t it?

Everyone having a voice. It’s “We the People”, after all. Our elected officials are sent to Washington D.C. by us, to represent us.

Right?

I mean, sure. If you happened to have the correct skin tones, gender and money.

First, a little history lesson

You see, the Constitution in its original form did not give freedom to people of color or women to vote. For the authors, voting was meant primarily for white male property owners. Well, women still couldn’t vote. That didn’t change for another 50 years until Susan B. Anthony blazed her trail that led to the 19th Amendment in 1920.

1920, y’all. It’s only been 100 years since women were granted the freedom to vote across this nation.

Even with the passing of the 15th amendment, it wasn’t like black men or poor men could just easily walk up to their local voting booth and freely cast their vote for the candidate of their liking. Many states utilized poll taxes (states could issue a “tax” for the right to vote) and literacy tests to prevent people from voting, mostly black men. Poll taxes stood in many states until the 24th Amendment was ratified in 1964. The Supreme Court ruled poll taxes to be unconstitutional in 1966.

Let me reiterate, until 57 years ago, states could force you to pay money if you wanted to vote.

So much for free elections, huh.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a decisive victory for all Americans who wished to participate in elections. The bill tore down the barriers that limited African-Americans and poor Americans from the polls. Nearly 100 years after the passing of the 15th Amendment, states could no longer restrict access to voting.

Finally, real progression was realized.

So, here we are.

It’s 2021, everything should be fine, right? Not exactly.

Our Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people in 2010, meaning corporations could pump cash freely into political campaigns. and in 2013, essentially stripped down the Voting Rights Act into irrelevancy. One of the reasons cited by Chief Justice John Roberts was that because the Voting Rights Act was working so well, there was no need to keep it in place.

That’s like saying murders are down across the country so there is no need to maintain a law restricting them.

Fast forward to this year. Within the first seven months of 2021, 18 states have implemented 30 laws that will restrict access to voting. Because of this:

  • Mail-in voting will be more difficult

  • Early voting will be less accessible

  • Harsher voter ID requirements could lead to votes being thrown out

Also, more than 400 voter restriction bills have been introduced in 49 states this year. One particular law in Georgia makes it illegal to provide food and water to people waiting in long lines to vote. In the last presidential election, some waited over 10 hours in that state to cast their vote.

As I said, this is a social justice issue. Voter suppression is the antithesis of democracy. They are attempting to create a new poll tax, one that is impossible to pay unless you have the correct skin pigmentation.

There are plenty more examples of this new war on the American voter, but I’ll let you do some research of your own. I’ll suggest maybe starting with what’s happened in Texas.

Now what?

So, here we are in 2021, having to combat the sins of those who wish to silence our voices. What can be done about this? For starters, it’s imperative that Congress pass the Freedom to Vote Act.

Let’s face it, American women and people of color have had their voices under assault since the advent of this country. Apparently, there are some people in power who are afraid of what we have to say.

Perhaps, it’s as simple as some of these “Red States” are nervous about actual free fair elections.

Under the Freedom to Vote Act:

  • States would be disallowed from making it harder to vote

  • More people will be able to register to vote

  • More people will be able to vote, either in person or by mail

  • States will be forced to accept utility bills and leases as well as student IDs and essentially any governmentally issued ID as a qualified ID. If states are going to be more restrictive with Voter ID laws, than they will be forced to accept any from of government issued ID.

There are more examples that you can research as to why this must be passed in this Congress, before the 2022 elections. It is of critical importance and the reality, a failure of this bill would have dire consequences on this republic.

So here’s where we fit in. First of all, awareness of the history of voting access or in many cases, the lack thereof, is important. Without knowledge of where we’ve been and how far we need to go, we cannot progress.

Next, pay attention to what is happening NOW. These new voter restriction laws being thrown around have been flaunted right in front of us. Right under our noses. Those in power are counting on our disillusionment, our weariness and frankly, our apathy.

It’s not just that they don’t want people of color and minorities to vote, they don’t want liberals and people with opposing views to cast their votes. They know that if this segment of the population does, it’s difficult for them to win without interfering with the results.

Finally, use your voice. If you are a writer, write. If you are an Instagram influencer, use your influence. If you are old-school and still use your phone to make actual phone calls, make some calls. Send emails to your representatives encouraging the passing of the Freedom to Vote Act. It is that crucial.

Let’s quickly recap, because it is very important.

There are states that do not want you to vote. Probably the state that you live in. They are afraid of losing power and are willing to do anything, including silencing American voices if it means never having to relinquish that power. Don’t let them.

There is a new war being waged on the American voter. It’s time to fight back.

Are we paying attention now?

-JG