Voting has always been a sensitive issue in years past. Wars have been fought and millions have died for the freedom we are all enjoying today. Indeed, we have come a long way but much is still left to be done. The US Constitution states and upholds this right as stated in Section 1 of Amendment XV that American citizens have the right to vote regardless of their race, color, or prior condition of servitude. While most people get to enjoy their inherent voting rights right now, many are still deprived of the right to choose the elected official they want to rule the land simply because they aren’t eligible, for instance.
Yet no matter how much the country has achieved over the years, problems pertaining to one’s voting rights persist especially that the topic of illegal votes was raised during the last election. While President Trump won the presidency in broad daylight, he still raised the issue of the three million illegal votes he insists that Clinton received and is the reason why he fails to win over the popular votes. His claim of voter fraud paved the way to the recent creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity that many believe is just the start of their attempt to roll back voting rights.
There is a battle under way for our democracy. The choice that lies in front of us: Will we be a country that guarantees every eligible citizen the right to vote and participate? Or will we allow states and politicians to twist voting rules and ignore constitutional rights in order to limit access to democracy?
That is the choice in front of us, and it is not an abstract choice.
Minnesota continues to be a model for inclusive voting rights and democratic participation. In 2016, we again led the nation in voter turnout with 74 percent of eligible voters casting a ballot. Minnesota enacted same-day registration more than 42 years ago, and in the years since we have expanded access through online voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting. In 2012, Minnesotans defeated efforts to put discriminatory voter ID laws into the state Constitution.
If this happens, the votes of millions of Americans will be put to waste as the officials heading the commission are known advocates of voter suppression and anti-immigrant crusaders in the person of Vice-President Mike Pence and Kris Kobach. Yet despite this obvious political ploy being played by the current administration in securing their personal interests, millions of American citizens are now becoming more aware of the issue and are educating themselves on the issue of voting rights, what it means to them, and how they can protect it from power-greedy officials.
As the 2018 and 2020 elections approach, federal and state officials ought to be scrambling for ways to prevent a repeat of Russian interference or other meddling in American democracy.
Instead, many are on an obsessive hunt to eradicate phantom problems, such as supposedly massive fraud by non-citizens and people voting in two states.
The upshot is that 54 years after Martin Luther King Jr. appealed for voting rights in his “I Have a Dream” speech, those rights remain under a double-barreled assault:
They start with IDs since most minorities will have a hard time complying with some requirements especially if they frequently move from one state to the other. It means these people have to secure new IDs that may take time for some and will prevent them from meeting certain federal deadlines. Hence, it’s the first step to gradually restrict citizens’ voting rights and ensure that the result of the election is always in favor of the sitting president. For a president who cried voting fraud, it seems that he is doing the exact thing he was complaining about. How can you ensure that an election is conducted fairly and justly if not every citizen in the land can exercise the right to vote for the leaders they believe is the best for America?