Who is mostly impacted? Voter suppression laws are primarily designed to impact citizens of color, but across the board they disenfranchise anyone who has difficulty voting. Whatever reason that might be, whether tied to the job one has, their living situation, parental responsibilities, some kind of disability, academic commitments, language barriers, business or family challenges, their likelihood of voting can be altered dramatically by the access options provided.
In recent years, several changes have been made to improve access to the polls. These changes include voting by mail, early voting, sufficient number of places to vote, drop boxes, and maybe most importantly, a communication effort to make sure all eligible voters know their options. And we're coming off a 2020 election where more Americans voted than ever before, something you would think would make us all proud. Unbelievably, but true, is that basic efforts to expand voter participation are used by many to claim voter fraud and, most importantly, to justify suppressing the vote.
Proponents of passing voter suppression laws at both the national and state level are folks who know that, without such actions, too many of their candidates would lose. They hide under the false concern of illegal ballots being cast when there is little or no evidence today of any fraud at any level that would have impacted any election. Despite, for example, the Biden-Trump race in Georgia being recounted three times with basically no change and even the Republican Secretary of State certifying the election, claims of fraud continued to be pushed by then President Trump all the way to the riots in the Capitol January 6th and the first speech of his post-presidency, delivered at CPAC. They continue this lie today. And buying into "the big lie" is being used as a type of litmus test, to prove that certain Republicans are truly "with" the Trump program. It's hard to imagine something more damaging than attacking the integrity of U.S. elections as a base-line belief for a major political party.
Trump’s own Attorney General confirmed the election was fair and very well administered nationwide, and there is a general agreement among professionals in both parties that our 2020 elections were run, with rare exceptions, fairly. Some more-than-sixty lawsuits were filed by Trump’s team claiming election fraud in several states that were key in determining the Electoral College victory for Biden. None gained any traction, including several that reached the Supreme Court and in front of Judges who were appointed by President Trump.
What blows me away is all the voters here in Kansas who happily look the other way and accept such discrimination as perfectly acceptable while they hide under outlandish claims of voter fraud. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach made a huge issue of voter fraud, spending state dollars to investigate with no success in the end finding any real problem, other than a few very isolated examples. Then costing the state more money to defend the discriminatory policies put on the books, many of which have been struck down in court. He did, however, manage to secure years of far right government in Kansas and put himself on the radar of the Trump administration, who unsurprisingly loved his anti-democratic ideas.
Modern elections, particularly after the fine-tuning following 2016, are confirmed to be run fair and square by expert and objective viewers. This is why there is a growing shift for most Republicans to push voter suppression as the way for their candidates to win. We live in a country that theoretically believes in "one person one vote" and throughout our history have made strides towards every legal voter having easy access to the ballot box. Why should that not be our practice?
What needs to happen to stop voter suppression, given Republicans control legislatures and Governors in many state capitals, is for the Biden Administration to introduce a new John Lewis Voting Rights Act setting national standards for voting access and for Congress to pass it. This law would probably be passed by only Democratic votes, but it would counter all the efforts being made by Republicans to suppress the vote and disenfranchise large populations of voters.
Now to those who say this is all just politics, I am happy to be on the side of believing all eligible voters should have easy access to the voting booth and not be handicapped in any way. How else would we truly insure that the will of the people is determining our government, rather than the other way around? And what credibility would we have in standing up for democracy around the world if we consistently did the opposite here at home? This is directly at the core of who we are as a nation and, most importantly, who we want to be.