Expanding voter rights not discussed at the Presidential debates
By Roger Caldwell
Voting is the cornerstone of our Democracy in the United States, but there has been very little discussion in the presidential debates. It is very easy to blame the moderators in each debate, and the candidates seem to be concerned with other problems in the country. But the process of voting rights is being suppressed in many states across the country, and it appears that the Republican red states are winning.
“The North Carolina State House passed a bill requiring identification to vote, but prohibiting the use of private college IDs as an acceptable form of identification. It’s the first of several new laws the state legislature is trying to enact to restrict voting rights for people of color, as well as young, disabled, and elderly votes. The forces behind these voter suppression bills aren’t taking any time off. They are busy in North Carolina—and in other states – trying to make it harder for people in our communities to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” says Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP.
In 2016, the Republicans know they have a better chance to win the office of president of the United States when less people in the country vote. With 31 states having Republican governors, they are making it more difficult for voters to cast a ballot. These governors are enacting voter ID laws, shortening early voting, and requiring citizens to show a birth certificate or pass-port in order to register to vote.
As the presidential candidates (Democrat and Republican) speak a-bout how they have a plan to fix every problem, it would be important and significant for them to discuss how they will expand voting rights. Senator Sanders is always talking about the terrible low percentage of Americans that vote in the elections, but he never talks about how he is going to help fix this problem. It is a fact that the Republicans in this election want to suppress the vote, and they will make it harder for people of color, the young, and the senior citizens to vote.
President Obama won the election because there were more people of color, young people, senior citizens, and new voters who took pride, and showed up and voted. Now in 2016, it is important that the Republicans and Democrats candidates are challenged on how they plan to strengthen our Democracy by expanding voting rights. The news stations that hold the debates should have a component during each debate on just how they plan to expand voting rights.
In every state in America, the legislatures should be making it easier to vote, by making registering to vote more accessible, including online voter registration, and Election Day registration. Our voting laws should reflect this fundamental belief, that the ballot box should be accessible for all, and technology should improve the process. Public schools should be used to register voters, and expanding early voting by allowing citizens to vote at any polling location.
It is time for the presidential candidates to tell the truth about voting rights across the country. The presidential candidates should make voting a major issue in the campaign, and explain why the Republicans make it more difficult to vote. Our voting laws should profoundly expand voting rights and strengthen our Democracy.
Black Americans have protested and some died for the right to vote. The country should be moving forward, but at times it appears that we are in reverse and moving backward. Voting should not be a partisan issue, and both parties should be working together to expand voting rights to all Americans.