In the 2020 presidential election, more than 66 percent of the United States voter population exercised their right to vote. There is plenty of evidence that Hispanic, Black and Asian American populations had a strong impact on the past election, but that isn’t slowing down the use of voter suppression tactics.
U.S. politicians have started passing restrictions to make it harder for voters to cast their ballots. These roadblocks include voter ID laws, voter registration restrictions, voter purges, gerrymandering and more. These are used against voters in an effort to restrict their votes from being cast and have the potential to sway election results.
Voter ID laws, while they may seem reasonable on the surface, may impose additional costs for those who don’t have extra money to spend on obtaining an ID. The requirement to hold a photo ID to vote is in place in 36 states. Some states require multiple forms of identification that include bank statements with an address, a passport, military ID, tribal ID and more.
Some Native Americans living on reservations don’t have an address. Some strict voter ID laws in the U.S. say you have to include an address to vote. This means that 50,000 people from the Navajo Nation alone cannot vote since they live in unaddressed homes.
Other populations that these laws can affect are the elderly, people of color, students and people with disabilities. Most of whom are minority groups in the U.S. In addition, people convicted of felony charges have other guidelines to follow.
Currently, 11 states have indefinite restrictions on felons where they can’t vote without a governor’s pardon, an additional waiting period or additional actions from the court. In Maine, Vermont and Washington D.C. felons never lose their right to vote, even while incarcerated. Contrary to popular belief, most felons in the U.S. can resume their voting rights after serving their sentence and completing parole.
Voter suppression extends to permanent resident card holders, or green card holders as well. Those who live and work in the U.S. on a green card pay taxes like other residents of the U.S., but there is one major difference: they cannot vote. Voting rights are extended to people who are naturalized citizens, which leaves out green card holders. There are some exceptions depending on which states you live in. Some cities and states have bills that allow residents in the process of becoming citizens to vote.
It’s a bit strange to think green card holders can be taxed in America, but cannot choose who to represent them in office. This is a fundamental right that citizens of the U.S. hold, but the list of people who are taxed without representation can get long.
If we are trying to increase voter turnout, shouldn’t we make the process easier instead of adding more hoops to jump through? Although this past year was a record for voter turnout, voter suppression continues. We should set the system up to where eligible voters can reach the polling places or mail-in ballots with ease.