Voter Suppression States

Reply Sun 3 Jul, 2022 01:32 pm
I live in New York State. A friend told me that in certain "voter suppression States" it is difficult to vote. She thought Florida was such a State.

Is this true? Is it more difficult for African Americans to vote in Florida than it is for white people?
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Real Music
Reply Sat 16 Jul, 2022 10:49 am
Black Americans Wait Twice as Long to Vote as Whites.

Published September 1, 2016

It wasn’t until 1870 that the 15th Amendment gave African Americans (well men, anyway) the right to vote, but somehow black Americans are still waiting to vote — in line, that is.

In a new review of the previous presidential election, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (JCPES) confirmed that black Americans spent twice as much time waiting in line to vote than white Americans.

The average wait time for whites was 12 minutes, compared to 23 minutes for African Americans. Native Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos clocked in at 13, 15 and 19 minutes respectively.

It’s not just inconsiderate to make people wait longer — it’s an act of disenfranchisement. Other research has found that nearly 750,000 American citizens left their polling place without voting because the lines were too long.

I already know that some people are going to read this and say, “So what if you have to wait? This is your civic duty, you should wait as long as it takes!”

Sure — but that’s a lot easier to say when you’re not the one experiencing these prolonged delays. When your boss is waiting for you to show up to work or your kids are waiting to get picked up from school, you might feel the same time crunch.

Bear in mind — some African Americans waited as long as seven hours to vote. Those kind of wait times are unacceptable and inexcusable.

Inexcusable, yet here are the excuses anyway. Communities of color lacked the resources necessary to expedite the voting process. Granted, the government should be providing these resources to all precincts in an equitable manner, but it doesn’t always shake out that way.

According to the JCPES, polling locations in black communities were more likely to be understaffed and have fewer voting machines. Both of these deficiencies understandably lengthened the wait time for each voter. On top of that, conservative attempts to squash early voting opportunities disproportionately impacted communities of color, causing more such voters to show up in person on Election Day than in the past.

When the Atlantic investigated this subject a few years ago, the publication found that race was the only drastic factor in determining voting wait time. The wait differences between both liberal and conservative communities and affluent and poor communities were fairly negligible.

Whether or not you want to say that racism is intentionally at play, race definitely seems to be a factor in how long people are waiting to vote.

Obviously, this is a situation that the government should feel obligated to remedy. Fortunately, the JCPES has some suggestions to ensure that this upcoming presidential election runs more smoothly and equitably for people of all ethnicities.

For starters, the government can look into previous wait election wait times and provide the right number of workers and machines (working machines — you wouldn’t believe how many show up broken) to keep the lines moving quickly and smoothly. From there, officials should be prepared to reallocate these resources between polling locations if wait disparities arise.

It’s probably going to take more than one election cycle to fix this racial disparity, but if officials do a better job of at least monitoring it this time, they should be able to easily identify the problems in order to fix it in the future.

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Real Music
Reply Sat 16 Jul, 2022 11:01 am
Opinion: Black Americans have to wait longer to vote.
Here’s how to fix it.

By Brian Klaas
July 9, 2020

“Print the word vote upside down, but in the correct order.”

If you have no idea what that means, you’re not alone. That’s Question 21 on a “literacy test” given to some black voters in Louisiana in 1964 to try to prevent them from voting. There were 30 questions on the test, all worded confusingly by design. If you got one question wrong, you were turned away from the polls. Absurdly, voters had just 10 minutes to complete the test, leaving 20 seconds per answer. When that test was given to a group of Harvard undergraduates recently, none passed. Had they been black voters 56 years ago in Louisiana, they would have been disenfranchised.

Thankfully, Jim Crow trickery like this is a thing of the past. But more subtle forms of voter suppression have replaced the tests.

Minority voters still have a much harder time voting than white voters. Some disparities are related to onerous voter identification requirements, which disenfranchise minority voters more than white voters. (Roughly 91 percent of white Americans have a valid form of photo identification, compared with 83 percent of Hispanic Americans and 73 percent of African Americans.) But perhaps the most sinister form of minority voter suppression is also the simplest: making nonwhite people wait longer to vote.

In the 2016 election, researchers aggregated smartphone user data to see how long voters were spending waiting in line to cast their ballot. What they found was a disgrace: Those who tried to vote in black neighborhoods waited significantly longer than those who tried to vote in white neighborhoods. And voters in heavily black neighborhoods were 74 percent more likely to have to wait at least 30 minutes in order to vote.

It’s not just an injustice; it’s also an insidious threat to democracy. The longer people must wait to vote, the fewer people will have their voices heard. Some will wait and eventually leave. Others will give up on voting entirely after spending hours in line.

While wealthier voters can easily cope with an hour spent waiting in line, precariously employed poorer voters — who are often members of minority communities — are less able to take time away from work to vote. It’s the worst of both worlds: The voters who can least afford to wait are those who are most likely to have to.

We’ve replaced Jim Crow-era poll taxes with modern-era time taxes.

In many cases, long lines are part of a deliberate strategy to disenfranchise minority voters. Since a 2013 Supreme Court ruling weakened minority voter protections in states with a history of racial discrimination in voting, more than 1,000 polling locations have been shuttered, many in majority-black neighborhoods. Texas, Arizona and Georgia were the worst offenders, though there were significant closures in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi as well. Again, those hit hardest are most likely to be poor voters in minority communities, not just because they face longer wait times but also because getting to a further afield polling location is harder for those who don’t own a car.

This is being done primarily by Republicans for partisan gain. Black voters are overwhelmingly likely to support Democrats. In 2016, an estimated 89 percent of black voters cast ballots for Hillary Clinton. In fact, given the dismal polling for Republican candidates nationwide, it’s likely that the Republican Party will make more electoral gains by suppressing minority votes than by trying to win them over in the coming months. And the GOP knows it.

So far there is no federal law to prohibit waiting burdens that fall disproportionately on minority voters. That needs to change. In 2014, a federal review recommended that voters should not wait more than 30 minutes from arriving at a precinct to casting their ballot. It’s time to shift that from a recommendation to a legal mandate.

Even though states oversee their own voting rules, there is a way that a new federal law could address the problem. States would need to ensure that voting wait times are, on average, less than 30 minutes in all counties and ensure that there is no significant disparity between wait times in minority-dominated precincts and white-dominated precincts. Failure to comply would lead to a loss in federal funding.

For noncompliant states, the law would also prescribe a simultaneous boost in funding slated only for election administration in precincts with long wait times. That would help to ensure that any funding cuts don’t exacerbate the problem further. There could also be a pot of additional federal funding that states compete to win based on reduced wait times and low racial disparities.

We would never stand for such glaring racial disparities in wait times in the private sector. Imagine calling a customer support line for Verizon or AT&T and being asked to dial 1 if you’re black or 2 if you’re white and having your wait time correspond to that selection. And yet we accept it as a normal functioning of the most fundamental process in our democracy. A legal mandate for wait times won’t solve every problem with minority voter suppression, but it would be an easy — and important — step in the right direction.

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Real Music
Reply Sat 16 Jul, 2022 11:25 am
Why American voter registrations are disappearing.

The Purging of voting rolls.

Published November 2, 2018

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