By Don C. Reed
When November 6th rolls around, I will absolutely vote.
No big deal, right—just show up at the voting booths and fill out a voter card?
And yet it is everything: our American chance to participate in power.
If I was not already registered, I would do so in one of two simple ways. I could Google the Secretary of State’s department, (it oversees elections) and fill out the form online. Or, I could go to my local Department of Motor Vehicles, get a paper form and turn it in there.
After that, I just show up at my voting site November 6th, and vote.
My son, Roman Reed, is also a life-death guaranteed voter.
He is paralyzed (tetraplegic, C-5,6) from the shoulders down.
But on November 6th, he will vote, no matter what.
As Roman puts it, “Voting is not just a right; it is our responsibility—to take a stand for what we believe.”
We dare not take this right for granted. In state after state, attempts are being made to squash out the right to vote.
It is called voter suppression, and to the best of my knowledge it is being done exclusively by Republicans to Democrats.
If Republicans disqualify enough Democrats, especially in a close election, they can win. Look at the ten closest races won by then-candidate Trump. Six were decided by 1.5% or less. That was his margin of victory.
Because many of those states had voter suppression laws– https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/voting-laws-roundup-2017 — an argument can be made that voter suppression won the election for Donald Trump.
Targets for disqualification? African-American, Asian and Hispanics—also students, and voters with a disability—in other words, Democrats.
Ways to disqualify voters are many. Here are a few:
- Reducing the number of polling places in areas with large numbers of Democratic voters (see above);
- Providing fewer places to register (typically Department of Motor Vehicles offices) in poor neighborhoods;
- Requiring government photo ID (usually a driver’s license)—which many poor or disabled people do not have, as they do not have cars, or may not drive;
- Purging voters who have similar names to those in other states;
- Denying felons the right to vote, even after they have paid their debt to society;
For an in-depth (and entertaining) look at the many ways voter suppression is done, read this amazing article:
Or, check out Wikipedia.
How can voter suppression be justified? It cannot. But the excuse given for it is an essentially nonexistent crime called fraudulent voting.
Some Republicans claim that millions of Democrats are voting illegally, which is a complete and utter falsehood. Republican President George W. Bush authorized a 5-year study, in which essentially zero fraud was found. Think of that. For five years, Republicans studied the system, hoping they could find voter fraud—and they could not.
Remember when President Trump claimed that he would have won the popular vote (which he lost to Hillary Clinton, by two million votes) if “three to five million people” had not voted illegally?
False. Even Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan admit this is utterly wrong.
President Trump even made another claim that “millions and millions” were voting illegally in just one state (California)—which was also spectacularly false.
Numerous long-term studies make the reality clear. For instance:
“A 2014 comprehensive study by the Brennan Center for Justice found there were only 31 credible allegations of fraud over 1 billion votes cast.”
Thirty-one fraudulent votes—out of one BILLION?
But even though voter fraud is a myth, Republicans will still try to suppress Democratic votes.
So how can you be sure to get your rights—especially if you have a disability?
The American Association of People with a Disability (AAPD) is a valuable organization for any person with a disability. (Note: AAPD has no connection with my political opinions.) Their information also applies to people with no disability.
They will answer your questions, like: where do you vote, or what are the voting requirements in your state? Is it legal to bring someone in the voting booth with you, to help fill out the form? Probably—but they will help you find out for sure. Do you need to stay in your vehicle while you vote? The voting station will probably accommodate you—but call first to be sure.
Here is their number, (toll-free) 844-338-8743. Tell them what state you are in, and they will help you. I have called that number, and they are nice helpful people.
Or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suggestion: print out this page, take it with you when you vote. That way, if you are at the polling place and the people running it will not let you vote for any reason, call the voting rights hotline at 866 OUR-VOTE. They have lawyers standing by, ready to help you—no charge, it’s free.
Tip: If you are turned away from voting, ask for a provisional ballot. They are required by law to give you one. Fill it out right there, and turn it in.
Above all, vote. If you have problems, call that number, 866-our-vote. Election day is November 6th, just days away. Alert your friends, share this message.
As Roman says, “Vote for yourself, your family, your country—but vote!”
REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER!