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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Column: Voter suppression

Although the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was supposed to secure every American’s right to vote, voter suppression is still as prominent today as it was in the 1940’s and 1950’s. It may not be people with ropes and dogs waiting outside the polls, but it is alive and well.

NPR host Michel Martin reported that within “the last few years, a number of states have made aggressive efforts to purge voting rolls and to make more demands of people trying to register to vote.”

Martin also mentioned that people may not remember, “but in the 1980s, a consent decree blocked the Republican National Committee from posting armed off-duty law enforcement at polling stations in minority neighborhoods.

Today, voter suppression isn’t as in your face, and that is what makes it so dangerous.

One way that suppression at the polls has been able to continue is moving and closing polling sites.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights reported that states across the American South have closed nearly 1,200 polling places since the Supreme Court weakened a landmark voting-discrimination law in 2013.

Some of the ways the government is facilitating this is by having shorter voting hours and photo-ID requirements. But this has not discouraged voters.

The report found that there are even seven counties in Georgia now that have only one polling place.

CNN reporter Joshua A. Douglas wrote that a number of courts are refusing to protect the right to vote.

“Although some federal district courts have eased certain election laws to make it easier to vote during the pandemic, the Supreme Court and federal appellate courts have mostly reversed these rulings,” Douglas said. “The appellate courts are instead unduly deferring to state legislatures and election officials.”

It is disturbing to see voter suppression so easily navigate throughout our democracy, because it defeats the purpose.

We must band together as a country, to protect the rights that should have never been at jeopardy.

If you are a registered voter make sure you vote early and make your voice heard, either by mail or at a ballot-dropoff center that can be found either at Pierce College or one of the many dropoff centers in your surrounding area.

But don’t stop there. Once we elect who we want in office, we must hold these elected officials accountable and demand protection of our rights and freedoms.

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