Although I am not a resident of the state of Georgia, I am registered to vote there. I was too young to vote before I left for college, and most of the elections I would be away from my hometown anyway. I planned to vote in person before the primaries had been moved to June due to the pandemic. I had a new problem, I'd have to request an absentee ballot so I could send in my ballot by the election. Would I even get it in time? Or at all?
The process of voting in the U.S. is exhausting without the inevitable obstacles many voters face. Many cannot take off from work in order to go vote. Too many restrictions to register to vote and voting deter many from even trying. Add in malfunctioning electronic machines, lack of provisional ballots, and extraordinarily long lines, is it any surprise voter turnout is so low on a regular basis?
All the aforementioned problems that occur at the polls seem ridiculous. After repeated issues with voting, there should be somewhat of an efficient, streamlined process for voters to cast their ballot without dedicating an entire day to vote. In Georgia, new voting machines reportedly malfunctioned and these issues were blamed on the county. Moreover, those who chose to avoid voting on the day of the primaries by requesting an absentee ballot were forced to either forego voting or go in person when their ballots arrived late or not at all.
Amid a pandemic, when one is literally risking their lives to vote, it is infuriating to have that right denied in such a blatant manner. When citizens want to take action, whether, through protests or electing officials, they are using their voice to enact change in their life, their family's lives, and their neighbor's lives. Government officials should be ashamed that they claim they represent the people and then strip them of their basic rights. We are not begging for rights. We are not wishing for better circumstances. We are not asking to have a say. Demanding to be able to vote easily should not be added to the list of grievances I hold, my neighbors hold, and my fellow Americans across the country hold. Yet it is one.
I applaud those who stayed in line to vote on June 9. I admire their determination to exercise their right to elect their officials. I admire their passion to have their voice be heard. But it angers me that the citizens of this country are forced to fight to be heard when elected officials are supposed to be listening. When the obvious voter suppression is in predominantly black neighborhoods. When a history of voter suppression and disenfranchisement cannot only be history but remains the present.
The way we vote needs to be reformed. The same "mistakes" again and again are not accidents. It is deliberate. It is systemic. It is disgusting. We cannot allow government officials to shrug it off time and time again. We must hold them accountable.