The richest and most powerful country on earth — whether due to ineptitude, choice or some combination of both — has no ability to perform the simple task of counting votes in a minimally efficient or confidence-inspiring manner. As a result, the credibility of the voting process is severely impaired, and any residual authority the U.S. claims to “spread” democracy to lucky recipients of its benevolence around the world is close to obliterated. At 7:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the day after the 2020 presidential elections, the results of the presidential race, as well as control of the Senate, are very much in doubt and in chaos.
On this episode of As the South Votes, Anoa breaks down voter intimidation and steps you can take to safeguard yourself and others during the election process. This is the first presidential election where the GOP is not restricted by a consent decree banning ballot security activities and the second presidential election without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. Documenting and reporting voter intimidation efforts is important to protecting the rights of voters and the political process as a whole.
Two tribes in South Dakota and a voting rights group are suing four state officials, accusing them of failing to offer adequate voter registration services. The complaint says South Dakota “is depriving thousand of tribal members and other citizens of their federally guaranteed opportunities to register to vote and to change their voter registration addresses when these citizens interact with state agencies.” The Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe and Four Directions filed a federal court complaint on Wednesday.
The 2020 presidential election is already underway — or, at least, it should be. Because of an ongoing legal battle, none of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties will be sending out mail-in ballots today like they were originally scheduled to. Democrats are attempting to remove Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins from the ballot because of an alleged procedural mistake his running mate Angela Walker made when informing election authorities about a change in her South Carolina address. A similar battle is raging between the two parties in Wisconsin, another key battleground state.
A seven-year investigation of voter suppression in Georgia has found that the state likely removed 200,000 voters from its rolls who were, in fact, eligible to vote. The voters whose registrations were removed were also overwhelmingly concentrated in the counties comprising the Atlanta Metro area, according to initial findings released on Wednesday. Conducted by the Palast Investigative Fund, which specializes in data journalism, and released by the ACLU of Georgia, the report reviewed more than 300,000 registered voters whom the state had purged from its rolls.
In 1787, the Founding Fathers wrestled over how to address suffrage in the U.S. Constitution. At the time, voting was restricted to wealthy white landowners. The framers debated whether it should be extended to commoners who had joined arms with them in the American Revolution, but who might overrule their interests. Ultimately, the question was punted to the states in Article I, Section 4, of the Constitution, which declares: “The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations.” By not giving U.S. citizens an explicit constitutional right to vote, the Founding Fathers effectively decoupled voting rights from citizenship and denied those whom states barred from voting any recourse through the federal government.
The Supreme Court all but guaranteed that nearly 1 million Floridians will be unable to vote in the 2020 election because of unpaid court debts in a shattering order handed down on Thursday. Its decision will throw Florida’s voter registration into chaos, placing a huge number of would-be voters in legal limbo and even opening them up to prosecution for casting a ballot. The justices have effectively permitted Florida Republicans to impose a poll tax in November. Florida’s ex-felons have a right to vote under both the state and federal constitutions. In 2018, a supermajority of residents approved a constitutional amendment that abolished a Jim Crow-era law permanently disenfranchising convicted felons. GOP lawmakers promptly sabotaged this amendment by passing a law that compelled formerly incarcerated people to pay all fines and fees associated with their sentence. Florida imposes a mind-boggling array of fees on defendants to fund its criminal justice system, and the new law would disenfranchise almost a million of the roughly 1.4 million voters who were poised to regain their voting rights.
Voter suppression as one component of the state’s wide-ranging efforts to prevent people of color from claiming their rights as citizens. Those efforts, in turn, stem from the state’s fear that people of color would ‘step out of line’, rejecting the authority of a system that relegates them to second-class status. With this in mind, Grinter’s assessment would not have been out of place in 1963, when Hartman Turnbow, the first African-American to register to vote in Mississippi, was arrested after his house was firebombed by members of the Ku Klux Klan.