• September 24th, 2021
  • Friday, 01:06:18 PM

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The Great Voter Purge


Javier Sierra

 

We as a country are going back to the worst years of the Jim Crow era, when for people of color voting was an individual victory rather than a constitutional right.

In Donald Trump’s United States, just three months from another crucial election, we learn that between 2014 and the end of 2016, states purged 16 million voters from the rolls.

According to a Brennan Center for Justice (BCJ) study, these purged voters — overwhelmingly low-income and people of color — were the victims of inaccurate and even unlawful voter roll manipulation. The report underlines that in those two years, the increase of voters purged was 33 percent in relation to the previous period.

In Donald Trump’s United States, just three months from another crucial election, we learn that between 2014 and the end of 2016, states purged 16 million voters from the rolls.

State bureaucracies are only supposed to conduct these purges when the person is younger than 18, is a non-citizen, has committed certain felonies, has been deemed mentally incompetent, or has moved or died. Several states, however, used draconian criteria to purge voters, such as not having voted in one election or having failed to respond to a mailed notification.

Another factor that aggravated this scandal, the report adds, was purging the rolls three months before Election Day, without having sent any warnings to the affected voters. Also, Florida, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia have conducted illegal purges in the last five years, and four more states — Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, and Maine — have violated federal law in these purges.

But this is just one form of voter suppression. Voter ID laws require getting types of documents that are particularly hard to obtain for low-income and minority voters. States such as Texas and Alabama required voters to obtain a driver’s license and shortly thereafter shut down the very offices that issue those IDs in low-income and minority communities. Other tactics include cutting early voting days and eliminating voting places in those communities to make it even harder to exercise this constitutional right.

The architects of voter suppression allege that they are only trying to prevent voter fraud. In reality, however, this is a solution in desperate search for a problem. According to an exhaustive study published in the Washington Post, out of a billion ballots cast in the U.S .between 2000 and 2014, only 31 turned out to be believable cases of voter fraud. That is .000003 percent of the total of votes cast.

There is a lot you can do to avoid these dishonest and even illegal tactics:
-Register to vote and make sure your information is accurate.
-If you are already registered, review your information about a month before Election Day.
-Vote by absentee ballot if your state allows it.
-Vote early if your state allows it.
-Call toll free 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) to get all sorts of bilingual information to register and vote in your community.

On November 6, we’ll have another national election for the U.S. Congress and countless other offices across the nation. It will be your opportunity to purge bad politicians who threaten our clean air and water, our climate and, most importantly, your future and that of your family.

 

Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC