BY GOWRI ABHINANDA
NEWS COPY EDITOR
As Democratic debates fill the screen and the Incumbent campaigns for re-election, the people of America are gearing up to exercise their power to vote on Nov. 3, 2020. The votes made on this key day could determine whether or not President Donald Trump remains for a second term, however, this very element of democracy is being threatened everyday through voter suppression.
Voter suppression occurs when certain events take place that strategically aim to influence an election’s end result through discouraging or preventing certain groups from voting. This issue is one that disproportionately affects people of color particularly and it’s also an issue that has been a part of American lives since the founding of the constitution.
In our nation African American people were marginalized and were prohibited to vote until the Civil Rights movement took place and extended these voting rights to this body of individuals. The same instance occurred as women were deterred from exercising their civic engagement until the 19th Amendment was ratified.
With more strides towards equality being taken, a thought may be that this inequality in voting would end by the 21st century, however, even today, rights to make our voices heard are being threatened. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled to do away with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which extended the right to vote regardless of any differences in gender, race, socioeconomic status and more. It wasn’t until Dec. 6 of this year where the 1965 Act was reinstated, according to the Washington Post. However, this recent implementation is not enough to stop the issue.
According to the
Guardian, currently more than half of the United States (US) have passed laws
suppressing the votes of the poor. In southern states, strict voter
identification has been implemented as well as roll purge acts. Each of these
target specific groups, mostly African American people, and these actions
deliberately challenge the individual’s voting status and rejects it, thus,
barring voting. Gerrymandering also kills voting as it purposefully influences
voters in a district to vote for a specific party without the voter being well
informed of the candidate or party stance. This is done most commonly in
districts that have scored low overall in literacy tests, again affecting
people of color and those who do not have economic or educational advantage.
The Bay has many resources providing an adequate education, which allows most
students to have their full voting potential. However, the problem is still
existent here. Some students, although attending the Bay, are in certain zones
where gerrymandering impacts these individuals voting. In the same light, other
students that attend and live in the zone of Liberty City, Florida, literacy
rates are low and purge acts occur here as well as gerrymandering.
Voter suppression is an assault on democracy and on the people’s power. It violates the right to all to have a fair opportunity to have the right to be civically engaged. As a country, America needs to meet the problem head on and showcase resistance or this prevalent problem will prevail.
However, hope is not lost. As a nation, the government needs to repeal strict voter identification and roll purge acts so that we can use powers and incite change. Additionally, people can get involved locally to stop voter suppression. Students can join the Political Awareness Club (PAC) at the Bay and register students who are at least 16 and older and a US citizen to vote. Students can join and volunteer for organizations such as the Voter’s Project, which PAC has partnered with to not sway students about their choices in voting like gerrymandering, but rather guide them to make an independent and calculated decision.
“Power to the people” is a powerful statement that the people of our nation should channel and act upon and the only way to ensure people hold this power of voting is to use our abilities as citizens and students, to urge our government to put an end to voter suppression.