Let’s play a game! If you can successfully answer the following direction, you get to vote in this upcoming presidential election. If not, too bad.
Draw five circles that one common inter-locking part.
Confused by the usage of “that” instead of “with”? Confused about how to draw five circles that only overlap in one place? Confused as to what this has to do with your voting rights? This question was on a Louisiana Literacy test (from 1964) considered to be impossible–and to be taken in 10 minutes. You can take it at Slate or take a slightly less frustrating version at the Civil Rights Movement Veteran’s Website.
Thankfully, voter literacy exams aren’t used any more to disenfranchise Black voters but worry not! There are still ways to suppress voters. For example, by harassing minority voters at the polls, demanding to see proper identification from minority voters, or threatening violence on minority voters.
Some people, like Rush Limbaugh, don’t see Voter I.D. laws as racist. In fact, said Limbaugh in his July 29 show,
All they were were laws requiring, you have to have a photo ID to vote because people are trying to get rid of voter fraud because the Democrats have dead people vote, children vote, people who don’t even exist vote. Empty buses pull up to the polling place, ghosts get out. End up voting. So the people say, “OK well we’re going to try to get rid of the fraud, we’re going to have voter ID.” The left: “You can’t. That’s racism.” Racism? How the hell is that racism?
Ghosts aside, Limbaugh touches at the crux of the issue: is racism simply the belief of racial superiority (as the dictionary says) or is it systemic oppression? When the U.S. Appeals Court turned over the law that Limbaugh is talking about, it “held that the North Carolina state legislature acted to entrench itself and ‘it did so by targeting voters who, based on race, were unlikely to vote for the majority party. Even if done for partisan ends, that constituted racial discrimination.'” (Per the Washington Post) So, the latter. I’m not going to debate the Voter ID laws here, but here are two articles, one from the Atlantic and another from the Hoover Institution to help you form your own opinion.
The reality that voters of color overwhelmingly vote blue (and are underrepresented at the polls.) It’s common sense: preventing blue voters from voting is a win for red candidates. It’s a whole other thing to tell supporters to go check on “other” voters (read: people of color), as Trump’s team have on multiple occasions.
In an interview with the Boston Globe, Steve Webb, from Fairfield, Ohio said,
“I’ll look for . . . well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”
Beyond ‘American’ not being a language, making minorities “a little bit nervous” is called voter intimidation and it’s illegal. By three federal statutes no less! Webb, and apparently many Trump supporters, are worried about something that is incredibly rare and are willing to break the law because of it.
In that same Globe article, another Trump supporter talked of secession (which is also illegal!):
“All I know is our country is not going to be a country anymore…I’ve heard people talk about a revolution. I’ve heard people talk about separation of states.” said Trump supporter Judy Wright.
In recap: no, voter fraud is not something to worry about. What are the odds? About 31 to 1 billion. You’re more likely to be shot (1 to 300), to kill yourself (1 in 115), or being killed by terrorists while abroad (1 to 650,000). And even if it was, harassing minority voters isn’t the answer.