voter intimidation

Three states — Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma — vote in primaries Tuesday. While the ACLU said voter intimidation is unlikely, it warned voters of the possibility.

Specifically, the ACLU cautioned about action against nonwhite voters or non-English speakers in a tweet Tuesday afternoon. On their website, the ACLU has a detailed voter intimidation resource sheet.

ACLU lawyers are, in fact, suing Arizona over the disenfranchisement of 500,000 voters. This is the result of violating federal statutes regarding the automatic update of voter registration information when addresses are updated with certain state agencies.

Earlier this month, Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) and Doug Jones (D-Alabama) introduced legislation to penalize voter disenfranchisement efforts, including voter intimidation.

“Protecting Americans’ constitutional right to vote should not be a partisan issue. There are few things as crucial to the fabric of our democracy, and to American citizenship, as the franchise to vote,” said Leahy. “Efforts to disenfranchise Americans, such as voter intimidation or deception, are attacks on this foundational right.”

And unlike the mythologized in-person voter fraud, which is exceedingly rare, voter suppression is one of America’s greatest scandals.

In January, a court ruled that Republicans could send armed patrols to voting precincts under the guise of “ballot security.” The Trump campaign and administration have undertaken several voter intimidation efforts as well, including the Trump Elections Observer program and his ill-fated Voter Fraud Commission.

The Georgia case of closing majority-black polling places was the tip of the iceberg of voter suppression efforts raging across the South. States are purging millions of voters from eligibility rolls. Texas is accused of targeted voter suppression against voters in a deep-blue county. Michigan’s gerrymandering is so shamelessly partisan it may have forever changed the Mitten’s politics.

Voter intimidation might be on the rise, and certainly the groundwork has been laid for nationwide intimidation efforts. For Arizona, Florida and Oklahoma, that’s today’s problem. But broader voter suppression efforts are a growing epidemic, of which intimidation is just one symptom.

 

Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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