What is Voter Suppression, Anyway?
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
After what felt like a lifetime of waiting for this election’s results, the American people finally have their answer; former VP Joe Biden and US Senator Kamala Harris will be taking on the White House in the upcoming year! Many are thrilled to hear this news, while others are rather upset about it. Some, however, have even tried to steer the election in their favor.
You’ve probably heard about the various attempts to “stop the count” of votes in swing states such as Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Georgia. Even President Trump made a tweet saying to do so. Stopping the counting of votes is unfair to multiple groups of people, and this is only one of many ways in which voter suppression is active during this election.
What does voter suppression look like?
As taken from demandthevote.com, voter suppression can be described as “any effort, either legal or illegal, by way of laws, administrative rules, and/or tactics that prevents eligible voters from registering to vote or voting”. The various forms of restraining others from exercising their American right to vote can be through voter ID laws, limits to early voting, closing off voting sites, and systemic disenfranchisement, among other ways.
One of the most popular ways that could be seen at almost any polling place is having to wait in an extremely long line for an excessive amount of time to cast a vote, which was a great problem this year regarding social distancing in the cold for many people, making their voting experience uncomfortable. Another way of voting this year due to COVID was through mail-in votes, which was not exactly favored by some, and had faced attempts of suppression as seen in an earlier paragraph.
The problem with voter suppression is that it affects women, LGBTQ, disabled, low-income and unhoused, elderly, and college student voters, regardless of ethnicity. Nevertheless, people of color are disproportionately affected by voter suppression in comparison to white voters. As many of these votes could have changed the outcome of the 2020 election substantially, there is no doubt that this practice is unjust. Subsequently, voter suppression results in a low sense of political efficacy, which is a great problem especially for the younger generation, who will soon be able or are already able to vote and participate in the country’s affairs.
Voter suppression may not ever disappear, but knowing your rights and continuing to vote can help fight it. Remember that every vote counts and can and will shape the future of America!