A Primer on Voter Suppression

By Maryann Vazquez
What is voter suppression? Simply put, it is an attempt to affect the outcome of elections through any of a number of methods that make it difficult for certain segments of the population to vote. Some conservatives do not believe everyone has the right to vote if a voter is not informed enough, wealthy enough, white enough or old enough or young enough –  well then they just  have to work all the harder to exercise their right to vote. Why make it that difficult? It affects elections and to the conservative advantage.
There are a number of ways this has been accomplished over the years.
        Voter registration restrictions: it includes limiting when citizens can register, restricting who can help them register and increasing requirements to register. Some states require proof of citizenship – making either a birth certificate or passport required to register.
        Residency restrictions:  making it difficult if not impossible for out-of-state college students to vote where they attend school, and for new residents of an area.
        Restricting early voting: each state determines its early voting requirements which allows more access for more voters which typically works in favor of black voters.
        Reducing Polling Places and changing polling places.
        Voter ID laws: voter ID laws mandate that individuals show only certain kinds of government issued photo IDs at the poll before they are able to vote. This disproportionately effects students, minorities, seniors, and people who live in rural areas.
        Voter disenfranchisement: When a right previously held is taken away as in the case of felons.(disproportionately affecting minorities).Those elderly who no longer drive but are required to show photo ID’s to vote.
        Purging of the Voter rolls: Removal of voters.
        Voter Intimidation: By “unofficial” poll observers or being questioned by a voting official. Also, just plain bullying.
        Gerrymandering: Redistricting the electoral map to favor a particular political party.