Updated: Aug 16
Despite the noble intentions of our founders that “All men are created equal,” voters who were not white or male have had to fight tooth and nail for the right to participate in the American democratic process. As hard it is to believe, white American women only got the right to vote in 1920, and black American men and women got the right to vote in 1965, less than 60 years ago.
Each of these rights were resisted and resented by a certain section of the white population, especially those who had benefited greatly from the enslavement of African Americans and the unpaid labor of women.
Those resentments never truly went away, though they were restricted to a fringe segment of the Republican party after the 1960s. But with the rise of Trump, not only did white supremacy get emboldened, it found a toehold in the corridors of power. The whispers that “only white people deserve to vote” once a mantra of the lunatic right, became enshrined as the unwritten motto of the GOP after Trump almost succeeded in overthrowing the election of 2020.
Realizing that the electoral system in this country is designed in a way that a handful of votes in a few swing states can alter the course of the election, GOP operatives swung into action to control the votes in the state they hold power.
This is being accomplished in two ways:
1. Control state legislatures and bureaucracies, especially the Secretaries of State, who manage the electoral system.
2. Blatant voter suppression by strategically adding and removing polling stations, removing the ease of voting, intimidating voters of color, and instituting bottlenecks to voting under the guise of preventing (non-existent) voter fraud.
Here is a sample of the efforts being undertaken by various GOP legislatures around the country:
Between January 1 and May 4, six state legislatures — Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma — have passed nine election interference laws.
Lawmakers in 27 states have proposed at least 148 election interference bills.
Since the beginning of 2021, 18 states have passed 34 restrictive voting laws, which can disproportionately affect voters of color.
As a study done by the Brennan Center shows –
The nine enacted election interference laws permit partisan actors to interfere with elections operations or overturn election results, direct new resources toward prosecuting election crimes, and threaten election officials with criminal penalties. Seven of these laws will be in place for the 2022 midterm elections.
So what can we do about it?
As things stand, these midterms may be the last election in which our vote can make a difference. If we do not turn out in massive numbers to overcome the electoral disadvantages of these voter suppression laws, we may not have a democracy any more. Even if we are in safe states like California or Oregon, losing our majority at the state and therefore the federal level in other states means that the Presidency is lost to Democrats forever, and the door is open for a totalitarian white regime that will have no compunctions about enacting voter suppression laws at the federal level to stay in power,
The best way we can preserve American democracy is to Vote Blue up and down the ticket this November, and, if possible, support voter registration and GOTV efforts in states where local activists are fighting to ensure every American has a voice.