Where’s the one place you need to keep an eye on if you want to protect against voter suppression?
Your own backyard.
Most of the stories that we read are about national issues. Especially online. It’s hard for local stories to break through. But as people who care about the direction of our country, it is imperative that we keep an eye on what is happening at the state level if we want to fight against voter suppression.
Look what’s just happened in these 3 states:
During the midterms, voters in Florida overwhelmingly voted to restore voting rights to citizens who had completed their felony sentences, affecting as many as 1.4 million people. But the Republican legislature just sent a bill to Governor DeSantis requiring that those citizens pay off all of their legal fees before allowing them to vote. This essentially, is a poll tax, which is illegal per the 24th Amendment.
The Tennessee state legislature passed a bill to make voter registration much harder going forward. Interesting how this happened after the 2018 midterms when voter registration and turnout surged. Right after both chambers of the legislature passed the bill, the governor signed it. Multiple civil rights groups sued immediately afterwards.
Just yesterday, we learned that a Texas legislator has proposed a bill to make the act of voting much harder for a wide variety of people. For example, anyone driving a voter to the polls would have to sign some documents to be allowed to do so. Say what? It sounds ridiculous, but this bill is getting attention.
What bills might Republican legislators in YOUR state be contemplating right now?
The goal of this post is to point out that there are stirring of these types of voter suppression bills long before they get to the legislature. But we all have to be paying attention, or get involved with local groups with connections into the legislative offices, who can then call on their volunteers to help raise awareness and squash the bills before they even pass out of committee.
Yes, we have civil rights groups that sue once they become law, but we need to do a better job of stopping these bills before they become law. It’s a lot faster, too.
Some things you can do to stay on top of local activities:
✦ Know how to contact your local legislators
✦ Sign up for your local legislator’s emails or newsletters
✦ Find out if your state legislature has a news service you can sign up for
✦ Learn which journalists cover your state government and follow them in the paper or on social media
✦ Sign up for volunteer or news updates from your local civil rights organizations, like the ACLU, NAACP, etc.