The Quiet Danger of Voter Suppression


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Sophie Gritsch, Staff Writer

Urgent news regarding the results of the 2020 presidential election has subsided and in its place opinions on voting have taken over many in-person and social media conversations. 

Social Media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram in particular have been overrun with people’s views on the voting process as well as personal stories of voting in this year’s election and past elections.

This presidential election has certainly been one that will go down in history. As the limits of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of mail-in votes drastically altered voting and the vote-counting processes. One phenomenon that has remained consistent however is the voter suppression faced by historically marginalized individuals and communities. 

The end of the United States’ election day delivered not only the first information about results but seemingly countless stories of people struggling to cast their votes. Amongst the excited and somewhat nervous posts about people exercising their rights were disappointing anecdotes. Of individuals doing everything in their power to vote and still sometimes not being able to do so.

Several people who were registered and able to vote were prevented from doing so. Unsurprisingly, most of these people are people of color who reside in communities that have been repeatedly cheated by the United States’ electoral system.

Many of these stories were spun to paint their subjects in a positive light with commending citizens for working hard to cast their ballots. Individuals’ efforts to vote are absolutely commendable, especially when facing additional obstacles that not every voter must deal with.

However, the question that has not been asked enough is, “Why do these obstacles vary from person to person, and why do some of them even exist in the first place?”

Looking back to past decades and centuries, objective laws and policies have legally banned certain groups of people such as BIPOC and women from voting. While these people now technically have the right to vote, less obvious restrictions still keep them out of the voting booths.

Whether it be having to travel hundreds of miles to get to the nearest polling place, waiting for hours due to inefficient/slow-moving, inaccessible voting centers, blatant rejection of voters or not help with language barriers are all newer and subtler forms of voter suppression in the 21st century.

Voter suppression is alive and well in 2020 and with many people in non-marginalized communities not knowing or not caring about this concept, it will not go away any time soon. The dangers of such an unconstitutional phenomenon are major, with so many possible votes not being cast. Simply because people were unable to do so, despite technically and legally having this ability.

Years of discriminatory mentalities rooted in United States history have led to the modern-day voter suppression that is still impacting people today and if there is any hope of giving every person a fair chance to vote, these mentalities need to be identified and addressed.