Supressing voter discrimination

Over the years, voting laws have become unnecessarily more and more restrictive, despite low reports of voter fraud. Minorities, people with disabilities and other underrepresented groups are being turned away at voting booths despite being citizens and filling out the proper paperwork. In order to have true democracy, we need less restrictive voting laws and give everyone an equal opportunity to vote.

Brian Kemp, former Secretary of State of Georgia, currently faces accusations for skewing votes in favor of himself by suppressing minority votes in the governor’s election. According to the Washington Post, there were numerous reports of rejected ballots, long lines and even outdated voting machines switching votes from Stacey Abrams, Kemp’s Democratic opponent, to Kemp.

It is claimed that minorities in Georgia who wish for change are being deprived the right to vote for Abrams. Because the Secretary of State is in charge of elections for most states, Kemp and his administration have been able to discriminate against voters without consequences and limitations. This lack of security and corruption desperately needs to be addressed by Georgia’s leaders before this problem spreads.

His office allegedly rejected over 50,000 minority votes, over minor discrepancies by using an error-prone “exact match” system to review applications. These small discrepancies on voting ballots that chief election officers claim to be present should be easily correctable and understandable, since it is often something as simple as a missing comma or hyphen.

The allegations of turning away black voters would indicate an attempt by Kemp to gain the upper hand in the election against his Democratic opponent. We should be embracing all legal aged citizens, regardless of race, instead of creating unfit voting conditions and unnecessarily meticulous voting laws.

This isn’t just a problem in Georgia; several states like Wisconsin, Kansas and Virginia have passed new voter laws, making it harder to vote for many. States like Alabama, New Hampshire and Indiana have passed restrictive voter ID laws to make the application process even harder by asking for specific types of government-issued photo identification for first-time voting citizens to register.

These voter laws directly affect minorities or those that have low-incomes or disabilities because it is difficult for them to obtain these specific identifications. These strict voting laws are preventing more people from having a voice during elections.

To prevent this problem, states should allow alternatives to government-issued photo identification. States that have stricter voter ID laws reported over a 10 percent drop of Latino and African-American voters according to UCSD researchers. There is a population of legal citizens that cannot vote because they lack the accessibility of obtaining a government issued ID and cannot pay the fee to get one.

A majority of states have multiple alternatives to photo identification, which allows more convenient voting for citizens. For example, in California, photo IDs are not required and voter fraud has not become a problem. Michigan asks for photo ID, but it is not required. For those who cannot provide one, they can simply fill out an affidavit to vote. Offering alternatives like affidavit ballots allows people without photo IDs to not be turned away at voting stations and are given the chance to vote.

Under Trump, voting reform has increasingly become a higher profile issue. Problems will continue if we do not make an effort to move toward progress by loosening voter laws.

Voting is a right given to all citizens, and if we do not give everyone the opportunity to voice their opinions, then we are encouraging discriminatory actions and undermining one of the main ideas of our Constitution.