It is often said that the right to vote is not a partisan issue. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. For more than 20 years the Republican Party has systematically moved to restrict and deny the right to vote to African Americans, the young and to poor people. The Republican Party has used its power on the state level to gerrymander legislatures so that even when they lose the popular vote by wide margins they retain majorities in the state legislatures. Those legislatures then pass additional laws to restrict voting by population groups that they believe support their opponents.
The right to vote incorporates many rights: the right for a qualified citizen to register, the right to receive and vote a ballot and the right to have that ballot counted. At every turn Republican legislatures have limited, suppressed and violated those rights. When voters have turned to the courts to vindicate those rights they come up against a highly partisan Supreme Court. (Most of the members of the Republican Supreme Court majority were appointed by Republican presidents who were not elected by a majority popular vote. and then were confirmed by a Senate that itself represents a minority of Americans.)
The situation is bleak. Democrats took the popular vote by a margin of 9% in the 2018 Congressional elections and barely eked out a majority in the House and lost seats in the Senate. Analysts surmise that Trump could lose the popular majority by 5 million votes or more and still win reelection in the Electoral College. The situation at the state level is actually worse with gerrymandered Republican legislatures openly defying the Constitutional judgment of lower level Federal courts and overturning laws passed directly by the electorate.
Without major changes we will not have a fair chance to win in 2020. Educate yourself, donate to the organizations that are doing the work of reform and volunteer in your community and state.
Call To Action
Educate yourself now! The Brennan Center for Justice is an encyclopedic resource for state by state voting rights issues including a breakdown of every significant state law proposed or passed this past year and the “50 State Guide to Redistricting.” The organization All on the Line as identified the 10 major state redistricting battles that will determine who controls congress.
Donate to national efforts like Fair Fight 2020(www.fairfight.com), All on the Line and to groups working on specific voting problems like the Native American Rights Fund and Rural Utah who are working to make sure that America’s First People have the right to vote and choose their local representatives.
Volunteer now! Stacy Abrams’ Fair Fight 2020 has set out to “staff, fund, and train robust Democratic voter protection operations in battleground states across our country, starting immediately. These teams require an army of volunteers to build an infrastructure of accountability across all levels of government until every eligible voter can register, access the ballot, and cast a vote that is accurately counted.”
Even if you don’t live in one of the high priority states, contact your local Democratic Party, ACLU or NAACP to find out what can be done in your community to ensure equal access to the ballot. Volunteer and Donate!