With only ten days before Election Day, it’s clear that a lot of races will come down to whose votes get counted. New ID requirements for Native Americans, moving the only polling place in Dodge City to the outskirts of town (a mile away from any public transportation) and then sending new voters the wrong address, voting machines changing votes in Texas, voter purges, “pending” lists … hey wait a second, I’m noticing a pattern here.
Voter suppression – largely directed against Black, Native American, Latinx, and student voters – has long been one of the major tools the right wing uses to stay in power in the US. 2018 is no exception. The Texas, Florida, North Dakota, Nevada, and Tennessee Senate races may well be decided by voter suppression; ditto for the Georgia, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Florida Governor races, and hundreds of other federal, state and local elections.
Fortuantely, all across the country, people are fighting back – with legal challenges, new IDs issued by Native American tribes, phone and text hotlines backed by pro bono lawyers, educating people about their rights, and dozens of other ways. A lot of the people and organizations on the front lines have been doing this for years and know what tactics work.
Here’s three things you can do to help.
The non-partisan Election Protection Coalition makes it easy to sign up as a poll monitor – and if you ‘re a lawyer, paralegal, law student or other legal professional, you can help with their voter assistance call site and field programs.
Many local groups also offer volunteering opportunities; try doing a web search for the name of your city or state and “voting rights organizations”.
Help get the word out
Many voter suppression techniques rely on intentionally confusing voters. One way that everybody can help counter this is to increase the chances that voters being targeted for suppression know their rights and have access to accurate information. For example:
- Share the ACLU’s Know Your Rights information widely.
- Let people know that there are hotlines in multiple langauges: 866-OUR-VOTE, 888-Ve-Y-Vota (from the NALEO Educational Fund), 844-Yalla-US, in Arabic and English (the Arab American Institute,), and 888-API-VOTE (APIAVote & Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC).
- If you know people in Georgia, remind them to check their registration information and that they can still vote if they’re on the pending list.
- If you know people in Texas, let them know how important it is to double-check that their votes have been recorded correctly.
- If you have trans and non-binary friends who are concerned about voting, let them know about NCTE’s #VotingWhileTrans page.
More generally, if you hang out on Facebook or Twitter, you can also help by liking and commenting on posts and tweets with useful information about voting rights. The engagement a post or tweet gets, the more visibility the platforms give it. While the effect of just a single like or comment is relatively small, a few dozen people working together can really have an impact.
And if you’ve got friends and acquiantances who care about the November election, try to get them involved as well. Share some of the links here (or even this whole article) with them and ask them to help.
Most of the groups involved here are grassroots organizations on a tiny budget; I’ve got a short list below. If you’re looking to contribute to a potential “Blue Wave” in the election, this is one of the most leveraged places to put your money.
There are a lot of excellent organizations working on this issue around the country … so many that it can be overwhelming. So here’s a short list of three well-respected organizations to use as a starting point.
Four Directions works with Tribes in Nevada, Arizona, Montana, North Carolina, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota and focuses on full enfranchisement as a crucial way to navigate a stronger future for Native communities. Donate here.
The Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has long been one of the leaders in the fight for voting rights. As well as running the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, they also get involved in legal issues before and after the election – for example, challenging Gwinnett County’s rejection of mailed-in ballots. Donate here.
The NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund has lawyers and volunteers on the ground in Texas, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, and Florida. One high-profile case they’re involved in is working with students at Prairie View A&M who are suing Waller County in Texas. Donate here.
Spread the vote helps eligible voters get government-issued photo IDs, responding to one of the most severe forms of voter suppression, and has chapters in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia and Texas. Donate here.
This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list. There are plenty of other organizations that do great work here and are also well worth supporting – look for ones in your local area or involved in races you especially care about. If there’s an organization you recommend (or are part of!), please share information and a link in the replies!
Also published on Medium.