Stepping Up To End Voter Suppression

With Voter suppression killing our democracy, New Yorkers and other states need to step up and vote.

Every American has the right to vote. While that statement has exceptions, it is a truth generally upheld by our government and a right Americans pride themselves with carrying. But what happens when that right is infringed upon by the very same government meant to protect it? What happens when people do not acknowledge that right and refuse to exercise it? 

On June 9th, 2020 primary elections were taking place in the red-leaning, southern state of Georgia. Lines were long, machines were broken, people were angry. Atlanta voter, Kaylon Brooks described the effort to vote as “Hot and terrible.” However, he was not in the least bit surprised. Georgia has a strong history of deterring voters from the polls, not approving voter registrations, and implementing obstacles– such as voting policies, that require extra steps to be taken just to vote. In 2018, then secretary of state, Brian Kemp was sued. His office failed to approve 53,000 voting applications, most of them filed by African Americans. 

The majority of Georgia votes red. (Wikimediacommons.com)

This is called voter suppression, which is the act of influencing election outcomes by preventing specific groups of people from voting. In the south, these specific groups are black and brown voters. A collection of people that tend to lean left in every election. With the population of African Americans on the rise in the south, the seats normally occupied by republicans are threatened. They are being shoved out of their precious offices, and are fighting back by targeting the black and brown vote. One of the most important rights a U.S citizen has is the right to vote. And the fact that that right is endangered by control and power is a shot to democracy and a blow to the principles America was founded upon. The misfortunes occurring in Georgia have the potential to impact the nation, especially with the presidential election three months away and the difficulties of voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meaning, when one is down others must rise and in this case, cast a vote. 

New York must vote, and every other state with embarrassingly low voter turn out rates. In the city’s last mayoral election, only 26% voted. For 2016’s federal elections, 57% voted. For one of the most populated, diverse states in the country, these statistics are unacceptable. New York needs to vote, and we need to start with the youth. According to Yesenia Burgos, one of the founders of Yvote– a cross-partisan organization determined to encourage young people to vote. Most people are not voting because “They think their vote doesn’t matter.” Burgos believes that New York makes registering for voting inaccessible and the foundation of civic education that should be learned in schools is absent among young voters. When Burgos referred to New York’s inaccessibility towards voting she was correct. New York does not allow early voting, same-day registration, and you cannot register online. The state must modernize its accessibility and young people need to adjust their outlook on elections to understand that their vote matters. 

States that have limited the right to vote (Flickr.com)

“Voting is one of the most powerful tools there is in a democratic society,” Burgos stated. And it’s a blessing and a curse. We the people have the power to change the nation for the better, but we also have the cards to destroy it if we don’t vote and let others control our country. This is why voter suppression must be put to an end, but while it continues people across the nation must step up and use their voice when others cannot. New York must step up by making voting more accessible to its citizens, and young people must step up and go out to vote when it’s time. Politicians benefiting from voter suppression must speak out against this injustice. To preserve America’s democracy everyone must step up and do what is right.

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