Posted by Nadia N. Aziz on October 24, 2016 in Blog
As Americans make their way to the polls on November 8th, media outlets will begin to monitor exit polls, candidates will make their final pitches to the public, and the vote tallies will begin to trickle in. But there will be countless civil rights advocates, attorneys, and election protection volunteers working to ensure that every American that is eligible to vote is registered and that every registered voter is able to cast their ballot. This election is a milestone as it is the first presidential election in 50 years where voters will not have the full protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
In 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Shelby County v. Holder that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. Section 4 required certain states with a longstanding history of racial discrimination at the polls to receive approval or “pre-clearance” from the U.S. Department of Justice before changing voting practices and procedures. The Shelby County ruling resulted in the passive disenfranchisement of thousands, if not millions, of eligible voters across the country.
The Brennan Center for Justice has tracked the wave of voting restrictions put into place and note that “in 2016, 14 states will have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election.” From cutbacks to early voting and registration restrictions to strict photo identification requirements, these laws impact Americans’ constitutional right to vote.
As the Brennan Center explains, these new restrictions are part of a larger movement to curtail voting rights which began in 2010. Overall 20 states have new restrictions in place since the 2010 midterm election. For a more detailed description of voting restrictions by state, please read the Brennan Center’s “New Voting Restrictions in Place for 2016 Presidential Election.”
Beyond new voting restrictions, there has been an increase in attention given to voter intimidation and suppression during recent elections. The history of voter intimidation is detailed in this report provided by Fair Vote, “The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America Today.”
Ahead of November 8th, attention has been paid to potential intimidation by volunteer voter challengers in several states including Pennsylvania after Donald Trump made calls for his supporters to monitor the polls on Election Day in “certain areas.”
If you run into any issues when casting your ballot, call the Yalla Vote Hotline at 1-844-418-1682 and leave a message with your name, phone number, and question. We will return your call within one to two business days. On Election Day the Yalla Vote Hotline will be live from 6AM - 11 PM EST. To read more about Voting Rights, click here.