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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Voting in a swing state, if eligible, is important to combat voter suppression by the G.O.P.

<esident Trump has repeatedly and vehemently insisted that the 2016 presidential election was rigged against him. Trump’s assertions are not only false, but they are actually very ironic; the election was set up to overwhelmingly favor Republicans. An Associated Press analysis investigated all 435 United States House races and approximately 4,700 state House and Assembly seats. They identified four times as many states with Republican-leaning state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Furthermore, among the most populated states (which determine the majority of Congress), there were just about three times as many states with Republican-skewed U.S. House districts. Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia, typically considered traditional battleground states, were among those states with consequential Republican advantages in their U.S. or state House races. Districts in these states were drawn by Republicans after the last census in 2010. The Associated Press data suggests that even if Democrats had turned out in larger numbers in 2016, their chances of sizable legislative gains were severely restricted by gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering is not the only phenomenon that dilutes black and Latino votes. Voter ID laws that disproportionately affect people of color and racially biased voter purges have been implemented under the guise of protection against the threat of voter fraud for decades. The results of the 2018 midterm elections will likely be shaped by efforts by Republican governors, secretaries of state, and state lawmakers to suppress voter turnout under the pretense of protecting American democracy from voter fraud. In Georgia, Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate for governor, who, as current Georgia Secretary of State, has control of state elections, is facing a lawsuit over allegedly racially biased voter purges. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was the vice-chair of Trump’s since-disbanded voter fraud commission (which found no evidence of widespread voter fraud after the 2016 election), has also pushed for stricter voter ID laws he claims are necessary to protect against voter fraud. Trump himself was sued by multiple state Democratic parties in 2016 after he encouraged supporters to “watch” polling places for illegal voting.

The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to ensure that state and local governments do not pass laws that deny American citizens the equal right to vote because of race. In 2013, the Supreme Court decided in Shelby County v. Holder that a key provision of this landmark civil rights law was unconstitutional. Striking this section of the Voting Rights Act allows states to enact aggressive voter purges, even those that will affect minority communities most. The Brennan Center for Justice reported that up to two million more people than expected have lost their voting status because of voter purges after Shelby County. Also according to the Brennan Center, 23 states have made their voting laws more restrictive since 2010, including six of the ten states with the highest proportions of black voters.

Kris Kobach, Brian Kemp, President Trump and many others have been and are strategizing to suppress votes from certain racial and political groups in the 2018 midterm elections. As Carleton students, we have an option to fight back. If you are eligible to vote in this election, and your home district is not competitive, I urge you to consider voting here instead. You have a residence in Northfield. Minnesota allows same-day registration. Just bring your OneCard to the polls. Let’s make our votes count.

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