It is a cruel irony in American politics that just as young people across the country – indeed around the world – think their votes don’t count in the political process, voter suppression tactics are all too alive and well.
As the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice points out, in the last few years there has been an aggressive effort to restrict voting as legislators around the country have been pushing bills that make sweeping changes to their election codes to limit the voting rights of students and movers, reduce early voting days, and restrict voter registration and “get-out-the-vote” mobilization efforts.
In this month alone, the Colorado secretary of state tried to block Denver voters from receiving absentee ballots lawsuit while his Maine counterpart wrote to students advising them that they could face legal prosecution if they maintained out-of-state drivers licenses and in-state voter registration cards.
Couple these efforts with voter ID laws that the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute reports affect 11 percent of Americans — approximately 23 million citizens of voting age, the vast majority of whom are low-income, disabled, minority, young, and older voters — who lack proper photo ID and the Federal Elections Commission finding that over 20,000 polling places are inaccessible to people with disabilities http://smlr.rutgers.edu/fact-sheet-on-disability-and-voter-turnout-in-2010, and we are looking at millions of Americans who could be disenfranchised.
That’s a whole lot effort to suppress a vote that doesn’t count! If there is an effort to restrict voting, the forces doing the restricting must think the ballot counts – and you voters should too.
So my advice to a wary voter is this; the next time you think your vote doesn’t count, think of all the efforts going on to restrict your right to cast it. That alone should tell you how powerful a force each and every voter can be. Remember the boomerang effect that the despicable 2010 “don’t vote” ads had on Latino voters who turned out and voted in pro-voting pro-immigrant candidates. Believe that making your elected officials accountable begins with the civic sacrament of voting, hold your candidates to a simple test: does she want me to vote or not? and when given the choice, vote for the people who want you to vote.