on Thursday, August 16th we met at Manchester Community Center to discuss voter suppression. the Talk featured Richard Cohen, President of Southern Poverty Law Center. 

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We Are America The Beautiful

August 24, 2018

    In accordance with the sentiments expressed by the President of the Southern Poverty Law Center J. Richard Cohen during our joint town hall event in Manchester last week, We Are America the Beautiful wishes to remind our subscribers of the recent events surrounding voter suppression trends in the United States recently. 

    Apart from just voter suppression trends, the racist trends exaggerated in the south expanded to elected officials in the region. From 1870-1901, thirty black congressmen were elected to the United States Congress, all of them Republican. Until the year 1973, some three generations later, no blacks had been elected officials. In that time, events such as the Civil Rights Movement had unfolded, allowing for states to exact suppression on diverse but scrutinized enclaves of society.

    Gerrymandering, originated some two hundred years ago in Massachusetts, is a critical factor in voter suppression. State legislators decide on district and county lines, essentially “drawing” maps that put a large amount of minorities in one district, making it difficult for candidates popular with minorities to win in a state. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act states that states cannot change election laws unless the Justice Department allows it, passing the burden of limiting suppression to activist groups such as the SPLC and ACLU.

    Voter suppression at its core includes traits such as a reduction of early voting, ending same-day registration, and moving polling places. In North Carolina, a pivotal Presidential swing state with a diverse population, a voter ID law was just overturned making it nearly impossible for to vote without various, hard to obtain forms of ID. Limits on acceptable voter ID, decrease in early voting days, no same-day registration, and a repeal of a law that allowed sixteen and seventeen year-olds to pre-register to vote are just some characteristics of suppression in North Carolina, as well as Texas and Wisconsin, with the former witnessing large demographic shifts with a mass influx of immigrants in recent years. The Supreme Court also upheld a law in Ohio that purges voter rolls if citizens miss an election, de-registering some 1.5 million individuals. 

    Amongst a cacophony of uproar beginning on November 9, 2016 amongst individuals furious with the result of the Presidential election, one narrative perhaps even more important than the repercussions warned of in the media regarding the President-Elect in the following weeks was the fact that 90 million Americans did not show up to the ballot boxes on November 8th. The notion that if “Did Not Vote” were an eligible candidate, they would have captured 496 electoral votes, is a harbinger for an America where its citizens do not in fact, as the Founding Fathers argued, always choose their leaders. The idea that democracy is not placed in the hands of the citizens, but in the power of the legislatures and the President. 

Voting is critical. It is central to our ideals as a nation. Democracy in America will cease to exist if not enough vote. It is a basic right not exercised enough in this country, and if it continues, other rights may be stripped.