Voter suppression is an attempt to prevent certain groups from voting in elections. This legislation can target groups based on race, gender, or ethnicity. It can take the form of a restrictive voter ID law, proof-of-citizenship requirements, or polling place hours that are not convenient for specific communities. In some cases, it could also include illegal purges of voters from the rolls. Read more about these at Georgia’s voter suppression law and learn.
State Restrictions on Voting
In Florida, Republicans have signed a wide-ranging voter restriction law. The law limits the use of drop boxes, adds requirements for voters to show ID to cast a ballot, and limits who can collect absentee ballots. It takes effect immediately but is being challenged in federal court. A consolidated lawsuit is scheduled to be heard on Jan. 31.
While two-thirds of states allow mail-in voting, eighteen states have passed laws making mail-in voting more difficult. Voting rights groups like the Brennan Center and Voting Rights Lab have tracked these laws. For example, Kentucky recently passed a law limiting absentee ballot applications and limiting the application period.
Several states have enacted voter identification requirements. First-time mail-in voters must present valid photo identification. In non-strict states, voters who cannot provide acceptable identification may cast a provisional ballot. Voters can also vouch for themselves by signing an affidavit. Provisional votes are permitted in states like Colorado, Florida, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Utah.
Criminal Penalties for Violations
A violation of voter suppression law is an attempt to prevent an eligible voter from casting their ballot. This can be done through harassment or intimidation. There are a variety of penalties for violating the law. For example, if an election official uses violence against a voter, it is a criminal offense.
The attorney general can prosecute the violation of a voter suppression law. To be successful, the attorney general must prove that the voter intended to obstruct the election process. The penalty can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the crime committed. Felonies are more severe and involve corruption, bribery, or threats of harm. Voter suppression laws have been codified in many states across the country.
The Center for Election Innovation and Research has worked with election officials from both parties to make elections more secure and accessible. The organization’s executive director has described the upcoming 2020 election as a major achievement for American democracy. Criminal penalties for violations of voter suppression laws are increasingly common as new states attempt to stifle voter access. In Kansas, for example, a felony can be imposed on a person who falsifies information on an affidavit.
Impact on Minorities
A new study has analyzed the impact of voter ID laws on minority turnout. Researchers used census data to compare turnout among counties in four demographically similar states without voter ID laws. They found that voter ID laws hurt minority turnout by 11 percent. This was even more significant among people of color.
According to the study, black and Hispanic citizens were more likely to be turned away from voting because they did not have the proper identification to cast a ballot. Further, one in ten black and Hispanic citizens did not vote because they were incorrectly not on the voter rolls. These barriers remind us of the deep wounds of Jim Crow in our country.
Voter ID laws have long been used to keep black voters from casting their ballots. Like poll taxes, literacy tests, and violence, voter ID laws are attempts to suppress black voters. These laws violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which banned such restrictions. These laws did not appear to discriminate, but their selective enforcement prevented blacks from exercising their newly won voting rights.
Impact on Young People
The 26th Amendment has a profound impact on the youth vote. As the youngest generation of American citizens, young people face unique barriers to voting. Their turnout in presidential elections has historically been 20-30 percentage points lower than their older counterparts. The percentage is even more significant in midterm and state elections.
In this election, young people of color are crucial to the outcome. Unfortunately, the passage of a voter suppression law would make it more difficult for them to participate in the political process. Fortunately, there are countervailing trends in some states that encourage young people to participate. Several nonpartisan groups are working to engage young people in politics, including VoteRiders, which works to help young voters get identification and participate in elections. Others are working to reach young people through social media platforms like TikTok.
There is a growing concern that voter suppression laws prevent young people from exercising their right to vote. While the number of young voters has increased dramatically over the years, there have been numerous attempts to prevent them from casting their ballots. In New Hampshire, for example, Republicans have introduced voter ID laws to reduce the power of young people. Unfortunately, these measures undermine the will of the people and the power of the largest voting bloc in the United States.