Tina Baker is the Senior Organizer for Dream Corps #cut50. In this first episode of Truth Cast, she explains voter suppression and how to combat it.
As an attorney, I get a lot of questions around voting, particularly voter suppression. There’s evidence to support the idea that many states have made aggressive efforts ahead of the 2020 election to suppress votes by engaging in activities like purging voting records, and making more demands by people trying to register to vote, including demanding specific kinds of ID.
In addition to these tactics, some states have moved polling locations from majority Black or minority areas and community centers, to locations like a local Sheriff’s office, which may prove hostile for those populations, given the historical and current relationship between these two groups. Tactics like this, in particular, can make minorities uneasy and may very likely deter them from voting.
Here’s another example: during the heated Governor race in Georgia, Stacey Abrams – an African American woman – was running against Brian Kemp, who at the time was Secretary of State in charge of running the election. There were widespread reports of voter suppression by certain polling locations being closed down and a reported shortage of voting machines when it was discovered that 700 new voting machines were wrapped and left in a warehouse.
Additionally, lawsuits are being filed in a number of states who refuse to grant absentee ballots due to the pandemic. As Americans, we should not want to have to have our loved ones and neighbors stand in line to vote all while dealing with the fear or threat of getting sick. Other states have premature deadlines in which voters have to return their absentee ballots, and other states are requiring voters to notarize their ballots – in the middle of a pandemic – in order for them to count. So make sure you visit your state’s voting website to learn the rules and policies where you live.
People feel like they shouldn’t vote because their vote doesn’t count.
This voter suppression tactic is the most subtle and harmful. This is a central strategy of voter suppression: to make people feel hopeless and discouraged, to stop believing in our own power. It is imperative now more than ever that we remain vigilant of these tactics and educate our friends, family and community.
The best way to combat voter suppression of all kinds is to stay informed and make a voting plan, and get your friends and family involved too. Triple the impact of your vote by talking to three people: friends, family, neighbors, anyone. Personal conversations are the best tool to increase turn out, especially for folks who are not usually politically active.
So take your phone out right now and text the word VOTE to 974-83. We’ll help you hold yourself accountable with occasional reminders and updates. If you need help with the conversations, just text back with your question and a Dream Corps organizer will respond.
To learn more about voting in your state, go to Vote.org or google search “how to vote.” If you’re registered already and want help making voting plans with friends and family, simply text VOTE to 974-83.