North Texas Daily

The disproportionate effects of voter suppression among minorities

The disproportionate effects of voter suppression among minorities

The disproportionate effects of voter suppression among minorities
June 19
13:33 2020

This year in November all eyes will be on the 2020 United States presidential election. However, in the midst of everything going on like the Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to forget the frequency in which voter suppression occurs and the disproportionate ways it affects minorities.

“Voter suppression is any effort by law or tactics that prevents eligible voters from registering to vote or voting,” according to Demand the Vote. Some of the ways it takes place include lack of or malfunctions of machines at location sites, Voter ID laws, informal roadblocks and felons not being able to vote. 

On June 10, the state of Georgia had its primary elections. Issues like waiting in line for hours, ballots being processed by hand and malfunction of machines were some of the problems that were prevalent in Atlanta, according to The Washington Post. Atlanta has a population of 50.7% of individuals who identify as Black. This can be interpreted as a form of voter suppression because many of the individuals who voiced on not having the opportunity to vote due to closing times and long waiting lines were from African American communities. Many individuals may argue that due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was necessary to reduce voting locations to keep the spread of the virus contained. However, more voting locations available would actually reduce the spread of the virus since social distancing could be practiced. What happened in Atlanta is another example of structural racism since Black individuals were predominantly more affected than White individuals. 

The Voter ID law is another mechanism that is used to further suppress eligible voters who are a part of minority communities. This law was created in order to prevent voter fraud. However, between the years of 2000 through 2014 there have only been 31 instances of voter fraud in the entire country during elections, according to Justin Lewitt from The Washington Post. To put that into a better perspective, there have been at least a billion ballots cast within this time frame. Yet, in Texas, Black citizens are twice as likely to lack accepted ID and Latinx citizens are two and half times more likely to be turned away, according to a poll conducted by the Public Region Research Institute, featured on a report by The Atlantic. Meanwhile, only three percent of white voters were turned away for not having proper ID.

In fact, someone who has been caught committing voter fraud is Texas House of Representative and sponsor of the Voter ID law in Texas, Debbie Riddle. Riddle was caught voting more than once for other members of the Texas legislature back in 2008. Given the amount of emphasis Riddle made on making sure that everyone votes one time, it is ironic that our own lawmakers and sponsors of these bills would turn around and break laws that they propose. Voter ID laws reduce voter turnout and that means that thousands of votes go unaccounted for in each state. 

Informal roadblocks also are another form of voter suppression. Things that would be considered informal roadblocks are changing voting locations last minute, being harassed by someone at the polls or simply not being able to leave their jobs in order to go vote. One in ten Hispanics state that they have suffered from some form of anti-immigrant sentiment or harassment by someone at their polling location. Black and Hispanic citizens are also three times more likely to have trouble finding their voting location in comparison to whites. As stated previously, there usually is a lack of proper voting conditions in areas that are predominately made up of minorities. The fact many of them cannot find their polling locations on top of the lack of availability, presents a huge problem when accounting for the minority vote. 

Voter suppression among minorities is a bigger issue in states located in the southern portion of the United Staes. This is due in part to the disenfranchisement present in these regions. Six in ten Black and Hispanic Americans believe that disenfranchisement is a major concern in comparison to only 27% of white Americans. Disenfranchisement can also be linked back to the era of Jim Crow. Many Black Americans and people of color were not eligible to vote and those children did not grow up with the importance of this civic duty in comparison to white families during this time period. This form of voter suppression is something that has been ingrained into minority communities for many years. 

This leads us to discuss those who are convicted of felony crimes and are also having their vote suppressed. The U.S. census serves as a means to distribute how many people will represent a district based on population. The census also accounts for those who are incarcerated. Given the fact they are not allowed to vote, they are essentially being cheated out of having proper representation. The United States incarcerates at disproportionate rates against those who are a part of minority communities, hence the prison industrial complex is disenfranchising a specific group of people.

Many individuals believe that their vote is not important or that it will not matter because the certain politician they don’t like is going to win again anyways. To those who think this way, would officials be trying this hard to suppress your vote if your vote truly did not matter?

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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Eunice Hernandez

Eunice Hernandez

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