In Peril: Voting Rights

The bedrock of our democratic government is right of the individual citizen to a secret ballot that carries no less, nor more, weight that any other ballot cast in locally conducted elections, operating within state guidelines.  We depend upon local (typically volunteer) election workers and officials (often locally elected) to conduct our elections and count our votes.  The implementation of this basic right has not been perfect through out our history,  and has been subjected to regional or state variations.  Since 1878 the Constitution has been amended four times to expand voting rights.  Amendment XV (1870) prohibited denial of voting privilege based on “race, color, previous condition of servitude”,  XIX (1920) provided voting rights to women,  XXIV (1962) prohibited poll taxes, and XXVI (1971) lowered the minimum voting age to 18.  All four amendments expanded voting rights.

  In contrast by the end of 2021 262 bills had been introduced in 41 states to make it harder to vote, or give partisan legislatures more power to interfere or politicize election results.  By the end of the year, 32 new laws were passed in 17 states.  In seven states Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Tennessee and Texas Legislatures gave themselves the power to seize control of elections from local election officials.  This power is exactly what Trump wanted when he unsuccessfully pressured state officials to “find” more votes for him.  It also permits legislators to control elections in which they are candidates, which is as far from democracy as you can get.