The Naked Truth/Jamala Rogers
Voting: Why Can’t the U.S. Get It Right?
Trying to vote in the U.S. is looking more and more like countries headed by autocrats or dictators. With the gutting of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) by the U.S. Supreme
Court in 2013, the vote has become the target of Republican efforts to restrict, circumvent, or eliminate completely the constitutional right of citizens to vote.
In off federal election cycles, communities — not just elected and appointed officials — should take the opportunity to assess their voting procedures based upon the
most recent experiences. The responsibility of cities, counties and states must be to always guarantee the optimum participation of citizens and to protect their votes.
In the 2018 gubernatorial election, we witnessed the blatant assault on voting rights by Georgia’s then Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp. During his nail-
biting race with Stacy Abrams, Kemp did everything in his power to assure his victory from not processing new voter applications to understaffing early voting
precincts to kicking legitimate voters off the rolls to voter intimidation. Unacceptable!
Abrams finally conceded but not until “every vote was counted.” She has already set up Fair Fight, a PAC to continue her commitment to rectify the state’s deeply
flawed election system. Let us not forget that the state of Georgia was originally listed in Section V of the VRA cited as a state to watch because of its historical
practice of suppressing the voting rights of African Americans.
Across the country leading up to the mid-term elections, we heard report after report about issues with ballots, voting offices, misleading advertising — you name it, it
I try to steer away from the conspiracy theories. However. When voting machines are reported to result in Republican candidates when a voter picks a Democrat.
When Democratic voters are kicked off the rolls. When the wrong ballots or insufficient ballots are delivered to Democratic voting precinct. When offices in Democratic
area have don’t open or open late signs or are abruptly moved. Since these scenarios rarely happen to Republican voters, one is forced to connect the dots of a
campaign that systematically impacts the ability of Democrats to exercise their full voting rights.
Then you have systems like Wisconsin’s at-large voting, numbered seats for school board. The law allows for candidates to run for seven seats on the board without
distinction of districts. Madison is the only city in the state bound by the law because of its population. Candidates must seek votes in the entire district, a sometimes
daunting financial hurdle as opposed to running in a district.
When the Wisconsin law was passed some 40 years ago, it was thought to favor the increase
of minority representation on the board. Ask candidates Ananda Mirilli and Ali Muldrow how it
worked for them in their last school board elections. The Badger State needs to revisit the law
and its unintended consequences.
The GOP’s assault on voting rights will intensify, especially in the face of a browning nation.
So must our efforts to defeat it. Citizens are going to have to take the voting bull by the horns.
Fair-minded citizen groups must take on city and state entities to fight voter suppression by
any means necessary. This could mean passing new laws, organizing direct actions to put
pressure on officials to clean up their acts and educating voters about the minefields they
must successfully escape to cast their vote.
Florida voters just passed Amendment 4, which restored the voting rights of felons. Their
heroic efforts paved the way for the other four states guilty of this unconstitutional law to follow
their lead. We can also follow trailblazing states Maine and Vermont who allow prisoners to
vote while still incarcerated.
While voting abuses at the local level are important and need to get resolved completely and
soon, we have bigger fish to fry. Those fishes are gerrymandering and the electoral college.
Both contribute mightily to the concentration of power by one political party. This means even
when Democrats win (the popular vote), Democratic voters lose.
Making sure that all votes get counted is a non-partisan issue. The evidence is clear that the
abuse is basically one-sided and favors the Republican Party. Forget the voter fraud fairy tale
perpetuated by trump and his cronies. We must keep our eyes on the prize.
Let’s rev up the engines, sharpen our counter-attack plans and change the political landscape
that threatens one of our most fundamental rights. We cannot leave this battle solely in the
hands of the government.
Be bold in 2019. Be ready for 2020.