Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 6 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Voter Suppression In A Pandemic Election

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   No comments

From Other Words

Voting is more difficult than it should be in the best of times. In the pandemic, many states are adding barriers, not removing them.

Voter Suppression is Violence
Voter Suppression is Violence
(Image by cool revolution from flickr)
  Details   DMCA

Although the United States hails itself as a bastion of representative democracy, voting regulations suppress the vote even in a normal year and even more so during the pandemic.

Texas, for example, only allows absentee voting if voters are 65 or older, disabled, or incarcerated but eligible to vote. Even during COVID, the state won't expand absentee voting to more of the state's population, and they've fought tooth and nail in court to prevent counties with millions of residents from opening more than one drop-off point.

Absentee voting has also been a hot-button issue in Wisconsin, where I live. During the primary election, the state failed to send many voters their absentee ballots before the election.

Even when you get the ballot, the process can be burdensome. Wisconsin requires the signature of a witness on absentee ballots. During the primary, the state threw out 14,000 absentee ballots because they lacked witness signatures. In a general election, those 14,000 votes could swing the entire result.

We're hardly alone. Eight states require witness signatures and three even require a notary to sign it.

Polling site closures are another major issue. Our most populous city, Milwaukee, had only five polling places in the primary. Voters had to stand in long lines and literally risk their lives to exercise their right to vote. Already, states like Georgia are seeing 10 and 11 hour lines even for early voting in the general election.

Then there are the ID requirements. Wisconsin is among the six states with the strictest photo ID requirements to vote. It's no big deal if you have a Wisconsin driver's license, state ID, or passport and a very big deal if you don't. In the 2016 election, in two Wisconsin counties alone, our voter ID law kept 17,000 people from voting. Donald Trump won Wisconsin by 22,700 votes.

Voter ID laws are a problem across the country even for absentee voters. Arkansas and Alabama require voters to mail a photocopy of their ID along with their ballots, a burdensome requirement.

Where Wisconsin gets it right is with same-day voter registration. In every state except one (North Dakota), you must register to vote or else you cannot vote. Another 21 states offer same-day voter registration. Every other state requires voters to register in advance, preventing an estimated 20 percent of eligible voters from exercising their right.

These are only some of the ways America keeps eligible citizens from voting. Our elections are held on a Tuesday, when most people work. Some areas, especially where there are large numbers of voters of color, have few polling places and long lines. In every state except for two, felons lose their right to vote for some period of time.

The result? In 2016, barely half of eligible U.S. voters actually voted.

In theory, these restrictions are intended to prevent fraud. But fraud is vanishingly rare.

Fraud is rare because it comes with a high risk and very low reward. You won't swing an election in your favor by voting twice or even ten times but you could go to prison. But if you're a politician, you can swing an election by enacting laws that keep your opponent's supporters from voting.

Our electoral system is riddled with policies that amount to little more than voter suppression. America should work to expand voting to all eligible citizens so we can live up to the democratic ideals on which our nation was founded.


Rate It | View Ratings

Jill Richardson Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

 Jill Richardson is pursuing a PhD in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This op-ed was distributed by

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Trump's Gender "Science" is Reductive, Mean and Wrong

This Popular Pro-Gun Argument Doesn't Make Any Sense

Why Does Trump Keep Doing This?

The Organic Food Industry Thrives On Regulation

A Genuinely Scary Moment in Foreign Policy

Mike Pence Is The Worst Person To Lead A Coronavirus Response

Comments Image Post Article Comment and Rate This Article

These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our Guidelines and Policies, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.

  • OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
  • Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
  • By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.

Comment Here:   

You can enter 2000 characters. To remove limit, please click here.

Please login or register. Afterwards, your comment will be published.


Forgot your password? Click here and we will send an email to the address you used when you registered.
First Name
Last Name

I am at least 16 years of age
(make sure username & password are filled in. Note that username must be an email address.)

No comments  Post Comment

Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment