There are 5 trillion reasons why you should be registering to vote today, but this should really be wake-up call to why: Because others are trying their damnedest — and possibly criminally — to make sure those rights aren’t exercised.
It’s true that voter suppression tactics are not new and it’s been a huge issue around the elections over the last year (a notable example was Florida Gov. Rick Scott being sued by the Department of Justice for attempting to purge thousands of eligible voters), but the incredible level of efforts happening in states across the country right now is pretty unbelievable. Just a few examples:
- Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) recently began conducting an investigation against Truth the Vote, a Tea Party voter suppression group who is trying to sue likely eligible Ohio voters out of their rights. So far, they’ve targeted at least 2,100 people in 13 Ohio counties, nine of which Obama won in 2008, most of them college students, trailer park residents, homeless people and African Americans.
- New Mexico has started a voter purge of 177,000 people, while training “poll challengers” who are being instructed to ask people for their ID and force legal voters to use provisional ballots — even one Pat Morlen, the vice chair of the Sandoval County Republican Party, has said that “if the person can’t even say their name, at least their name, I don’t see why they should be voting.” Ableist much?
- At least five counties in Pennsylvania are still requiring IDs from voters at the polls on their websites despite a judge postponing the state’s enforcement of its strict voter ID laws until after the election.
In fact, since the start of 2011, more than 180 bills have been introduced in at least 41 states that could make it harder for you to vote. The Brennan Center for Justice is saying that as many as 5 million voters nationwide could be affected.
So think about registering not just as a way for you to vote on the issues you care about, like economic equality, reproductive freedom, and affordable health care — but also to simply exercise your right against those who would not only take it away from you, but are willing to target the most marginalized of communities in order to cheat their way into office. That is not a democracy.
Hence, in case I didn’t make it clear enough: Register. It’s too big of a risk not to.