In this essay, I will explain how the voter suppression in the US has affected voters in the state with a comparison of another state, Oregon.
In today’s political and economic climate, voter suppression should not be viewed as a trivial matter, particularly when it is aimed at Americans whose voices are often ignored, such as the poor, minorities, and the young.
Across our country’s history, all political parties from the Whigs to the democrats to the Republicans have abused voting laws, procedures and reforms to suit their own narrow political ends. The requirement for voters to have government issues photo ID at the polls, a favorite tool of some in the Republican party to disenfranchise constituencies more likely to vote for Democrats was rammed through and passed into law in eight States across the country, and made it through some part of the legislative process in more than two dozen more states. Elections express the will of the people, all the people. Yet our elections are not representative as a result of law turnout, partisans restricting, and the influence of money on elections. According to a 2006 poll, while republicans and Democrats are equally regular voters, Democratic constituencies are more likely to be nonvoters. 20% of the people who identify as Democrats say they are not registered to vote, compared with 14% of Republican. 29% of liberals say they are not registered to vote, compared with 20% of moderates and 17% of conservatives.
According to the Texas civil rights project, Texas is the most restrictive State in the Union when it comes to voter registration. Nationally, a quarter of eligible Americans, 62 million people are not registered to vote. 3 million of them live in Texas, including 2.2 million unregistered Latinos and 750,000 unregistered African Americans. Texas has more unregistered voters than the total population of 20 States. While its strict voter ID law has attracted national inspection for discriminating against people of color and has been repeatedly struck down by the courts, the state’s restrictions on voter registration drives have received little attention even though they prevent millions of black and Latino citizens from participating in the political process. Texas has a long and ugly history of blocking blacks and Latinos from voting through poll taxes, all white primaries, and English only ballots. In 2015 Oregon had registered 300,000 new voters in the past year, a 145 increase. If Texas is the toughest states, Oregon is the easiest. In January, it became the first states to automatically register any citizen who obtains a driver’s license or a state ID at the department of motor vehicles. According to the organization Latino decisions, in 2012, only a quarter of Texas Latinos were contacted by political parties or organizations before election, making them the most under mobilized group in the country. In San Antonio, Maria Fernanda Cabello has knocked on about 10,000 doors in Latino neighborhoods where turnout has been law in the past. ” we have to knock on all these doors again as the elections approaches.” She said.
Oregon was really great in terms of voter turnout, because we put ballots in people’s hands. It was only slightly about average in terms of voter registration, and they wanted to make it as convenient and accessible as possible. Oregon’s law is quickly being replicated nationwide. Similar automatic registration laws are in the process of being implemented in California, and Connecticut. In California alone, 2.4 million new voters could be registered next year. At a time when state like Texas continues to make it harder to vote, Oregon is not registering a lot of new voters but also reframing the national debate over voting rights, treating the franchise ad a fundamental right rather than a privilege. “I believe that Americans should be able to access the right to vote simply by virtue of their qualification: that they are residents of particular state.” Brow says.
Texas is one of 14 states that have passed laws requiring a photo ID to cast a ballot. And this year, legislatures in 27 states are considering voter ID laws, including 13 states that currently have no voter ID requirements, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Pennsylvania survived that ID battle, and many of the other strict voter ID laws hastily passed in the last two years by Republican legislatures have been delayed or summarily struck down. At least half of the states in the nation require some form of ID, photo or non-photo, to vote. In the past few months, voter ID laws were passed in New Hampshire and Virginia, although in the latter abroad range of ID’s are acceptable, including utility bills and library cards. In 24 states, a would be voter can be challenged by any poll watcher who suspects they are up to fraudulent activity. In Illinois, a state with no voter ID requirement, an election law allows poll watchers to challenge voter’s eligibility and demand two forms of ID.
Law turnout in Texas is also tied to demographics and varies by age. Hispanics are, and have been, leaving the GOP for years. That’s significant for Texas, as 38 percent of the state’s citizens are Hispanic and that percentage is increasing. As more and more Latino and Latina citizens become politically engaged in the Lone Star State, local politicians could suffer more from not offering them accurate representation. When we consider that voter turnout in Texas hit record highs, the GOP will need to reconcile their differences with Texas youths as well if they want to be a party of the future. A breakdown of the population by age shows a third of Texas Hispanics are not of voting age. Those under 18 make up the state’s largest Hispanic age group. Those aged 45 to 64 make up the biggest age group of white Texans. Over the long-term, the one sure way to get Texas off the bottom of the voter turnout list will be to undo that legislative effort. “Democrats can plant seeds for a blue Texas by targeting first time Latino voters and running candidates that look like them and share their values.” Alex said. One effort that has shown promise is reaching out to high school student to register as soon as they turn 18, because almost half of Texas high school students are Hispanic. The Brennan Center for Justice found that precincts with larger numbers of African-American and Latino voters had fewer voting machines and fewer poll workers, and thus, longer waiting times than white precincts..