The Most Important Issue the Democratic Primary is Ignoring: Voting Rights

Brooklyn-Voting-Square-870x560

Much has been written about the long lines at the Arizona Democratic primary, with some voters waiting for as long as five hours to vote. Some Bernie Sanders supporters have cried foul and claimed that Hillary Clinton’s campaign must be responsible for the lines, which were meant to disenfranchise Sanders voters. Clinton’s campaign responded immediately, with Marc Elias, Campaign Counsel, posting on Reddit that the long lines were a result of the GOP-led voter disenfranchisement and gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which also hurt Clinton at the polls. In Maricopa County, Arizona, one district with a large minority population had no polling locations at all. Considering Clinton’s strength with minority voters, this particular instance of disenfranchisement would hurt her campaign more than Sanders.

It’s surprising that this is first time voter suppression has really come to the forefront of the discussion this election season. With so much focus on Citizens United and campaign finance reform, one would think that individual voting rights would be a major priority for both Democratic campaigns. Voter suppression has been plaguing our democracy for decades — long before Citizens United was decided and long before the Voting Rights Act was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013. Voter suppression helped elect President George W. Bush in 2000 and has reared its ugly head time and time again in our elections, with cutbacks to early voting and lines as long as 7 hours to vote.

The gutting of VRA is an American travesty, and one that will continue to have long-reaching consequences for our democracy. It should arguably be the most important issue of this election, more dire than breaking up the banks and getting the money out of politics combined. The freedom to vote is one that we citizens (who aren’t white, male and land-owning) fought long and hard for — it is our most important right outside of the Bill of Rights. Without fair and equal voting, we are a sham of a democracy. According to “Why Voting Matters,” a report by Demos: Continue reading

Advertisements