Is Voting Too Hard in the U.S.? Voter Suppression Explored

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Americans face many obstacles when it comes to voting and it reflects in our voter turnout numbers. The process of getting registered and getting to the polls isn’t the same for everyone and depending on where you are it can make voting really hard and these hurdles can discourage people from voting all together. So...is voting too hard in the U.S?

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What Are Voter ID Laws?

The intention of voter ID laws is to make sure a voter is who they say they are and aren’t trying to impersonate someone else or vote multiple times. However, these laws are said to disproportionately affect elderly, minority, and low-income voters. According to the Brennan Center, about 11 percent of U.S. citizens, or roughly 21 million citizens, don’t have government-issued photo ID. A total of 36 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls, 35 of which are in force in 2020. The remaining 14 states use other methods to verify the identity of voters but the list of acceptable IDs varies substantially from state to state.

What Are Poll Closures?

If you’ve seen long lines outside of polling places, those may be caused by poll closures. This has been an increasing issue since the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder which removed provisions to the Voters Rights Act that required states and cities with a history of discriminatory practices to get approval from the federal government before making changes to voting laws and since the decision nearly 1700 polling places have closed across 13 states.

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What Are Voter Purges?

Voter purges are the act of removing ineligible voter registrations from the rolls, it’s meant to clean up the voter list. This happens when elected officials do “maintenance” and remove names because they moved, passed away, or didn’t vote in a certain number of prior elections. However, what happens when these purges get rid of hundreds of thousands of eligible voters by deleting or removing incorrectly without notice?

SOURCES

"U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout" (Pew Research)

"Block the Vote: Voter Suppression in 2020" (ACLU)

"A Sampling of Recent Voter Fraud Cases Across the U.S." (Heritage Foundation

"The Truth About Voter Fraud" (Brennan Center for Justice)

"Voter Suppression Is Warping Democracy" (The Atlantic)

"‘They Don’t Really Want Us to Vote’: How Republicans Made It Harder" (The New York Times)

"Democracy Diverted: Polling Place Closures and the Right to Vote" (The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights)

"2016 November General Election Turnout Rates" (United States Elections Project)

"How Voter ID Laws Discriminate" (The Atlantic)