We Must Protect Voting Rights In Our Own States

As I referenced in Monday’s post, it is crucial that we push for the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act at the federal level, but we also need to pay attention to voting rights bills at the state level. Because there is a LOT of voter suppression efforts underway there right now.

Just take a look at Georgia. The ink was barely dry on the election results before Republican state legislators started proposing bills to restrict voting. They’re trying to reverse their automatic voter registration process — so instead of everyone automatically being registered to vote when they use a government service like the DMV, they want to force people to opt-in instead. Of course, that will dramatically slow voter registrations down.

They are proposing to get rid of no-excuse absentee voting, which of course was used widely in 2020, but in a nod to their aging demographic, they are fine with keeping it in place if you’re older than 75.

Other voter restrictions that they’ve proposed are clearly a reaction to losing the biggest federal races to Democrats, and the sky high voter turnout by Black voters: they want to ban new residents from voting in runoff elections; they want to get rid of drop boxes; and they don’t want groups and organizations sending absentee ballot applications to voters. (Source)

This is all on top of the “normal” voter suppression voters experience in Georgia all the time, as documented in this Guardian article from last month.

But lest you think this type of thing is only happening in the swing states, let me assure you it is not.

In Montana, where the Republicans won control of all the levers of government, and which went for Trump by a 16 point margin, the GOP now wants to stop people from registering on Election Day. Following the Republican playbook, the sponsor of the bill cited a need to protect against “fraud” without citing any evidence that fraud existed. The bill has already passed the state House and is headed for a vote in the state Senate.

In the months ahead, I will keep bringing other voter suppression efforts to our collective attention, but know this: Voter suppression is happening all over the country, not just in swing states, and the time to stop these bills in their tracks is now.

What we can do

To solve a problem, first we need to be aware of it. I encourage you to subscribe to Stephen Wolf’s voting rights roundup newsletter, which you can do HERE. (The sign up form is about 5 paragraphs into the article.) Also, consider bookmarking the link to whichever state newspaper does the best job at reporting what is happening in your state legislator. You could also follow political reporters in your state on their social media accounts.

Once you are aware of a voting rights issue, the next move is to call your state legislator to tell them how you feel about the bill. If you’re plugged into any of your local political organizing groups (local Dem party, Indivisible, Swing Left, etc.) be sure to let them know about it. That way, instead of your one call, legislators will be flooded with calls. Believe me, at the state level, that can make a big difference.

One more thing you can do. Often, there are voting rights organizations that will sue once a bill becomes law. These are crucial lawsuits and they need to be funded. Make a donation to voting rights groups that file these types of lawsuits, like the ACLU or the League of Women Voters or local groups like Fair Fight in Georgia need your support.

Thank you for taking action!

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