Now that the midterm elections are over and the dust has settled, it is not the time to harp on losses or victories for any party. From now until the 2020 elections, we should turn our attention to the systems of disenfranchisement that too often render our nation’s elections undemocratic.
In Georgia, for example, Brian Kemp (R) was allowed to run for governor while maintaining his position as secretary of state — a position that has him overseeing the elections in the state of Georgia. Other states, like Arkansas and North Carolina, approved ballot measures that require photo IDs to vote. Though there is an ongoing debate over the election turnout impact of voter ID laws, especially on minority voters, there remains the possibility that these laws lead to disenfranchisement.
In Ohio, the Supreme Court recently upheld a controversial voter-purge law that allows the state to remove people from registration rolls upon failure to return a mailed address confirmation form and don’t vote for four years.
Some battles were lost while others were won. In what has been described as the biggest move towards enfranchisement since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Florida voted to restore voting rights to over 1 million citizens with felony charges. Though the ballot measure did not include murderers or sex offenders, those with felony charges such as automobile theft and marijuana cultivation have regained the right to vote after time served.
While it is important to rally those around you to vote in the next election, it is equally important that we do all that is in our power to ensure that every citizen maintains the right to vote. Time and time again we have seen that our democracy does not work when only select voices can be heard. We urge you to call your state representatives and ask them to take action against disenfranchisement.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Cameron Messinides ’19 and Devon Musgrave-Johnson ’19, managing editor Grant Miner ’19 and executive director Matt Mandel ’19. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.