The 2016 election season has been in full swing for a few months now and the candidates are attracting incredible amounts of voters to rallies and to the polls. The increase in voter turn out is amazing, but has also brought to light many issues associated with our voting process that have not been dealt with before now or have just become an issue. While there are a multitude of issues, most of them fall under the umbrella of disenfranchisement.
This disenfranchisement has been seen in a variety of situations including new voter ID laws, insufficient voting registration and polling resources, as well as mass deletion of voters from registration records. These issues—some deliberate, others not so much—have prevented hundreds of thousands of voters from being able to voice their opinion, many of whom are young people or various minority groups.
The issue of requiring voters to have an approved form of ID is something that is currently being widely debated across party lines. On one side of the argument, some people believe the requirement of a photo ID prevents voter fraud. On the other side though, some people see the requirement of a photo ID as a systematic disenfranchisement of minority and poverty-stricken voters. According to a study done by the Brennan Center for Justice, 10 percent of eligible voters overall and 25 percent of African-American voters do not have an acceptable photo ID.
Currently, 34 states either require or recommend that voters have an ID available when voting, 17 of those require or recommend a photo ID. For those states which require photo IDs, voters without a photo ID on the day of the election may be able to fill out a provisional ballot, but if the voter does not provide proof of an ID before a set period of time—this varies by state—their ballot will be discarded. Many of these photo ID laws were enacted just this year, which has only added to the problems the elections are facing.
In addition to the new voter ID laws, many states were unable to support the record turn out of voters, which prevented thousands of people from voting. In Arizona, for example, some communities were completely devoid of polling places and in communities where there was voting places, there were not enough to support the general population. This lack of polling places caused some people to wait in line for several hours. This lack of polling places was disproportionately found in minority communities—people already disproportionately affected by voter ID laws.
If these issues weren't enough, some states including New York and California have had complaints from voters saying that their registration status or party affiliation was changed or deleted from the state's system. In New York, over 125,000 voters were deleted from the voter registration system. The amount of issues caused by these two states and others has caused investigations and lawsuits both by the Department of Justice and by Election Justice USA in order to solve these issues and stop the voter suppression and disenfranchisement caused by them.
The remarkable amount of issues involved in this election has not prevented one of the highest voter turnouts in decades. American voters have not let the systematic disenfranchisement of thousands of people to stop them from making their opinions heard and from making a difference in our country. The only way to stop such voter suppression methods as those used during this election is to keep making noise and making change in whatever way possible, which many voters are trying to do this election season. If you are one of the thousands disenfranchised this election season, keep fighting for your right to vote—don't give up! If you have the ability to vote, realize how lucky you are and go vote!