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How safe is Your Right to Vote?

How safe is Your Right to Vote?
January 14
12:46 2021

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

Voting is the most basic right in American democracy but many are surprised to learn it’s not enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. Despite unprecedented voter turnout on Nov. 3 and in the Jan. 5 Georgia Senate runoffs, voting barriers persist and public distrust of election outcomes is at historic levels. In the first EMS conference on Jan 8, 2021 experts discussed the key proposals for rebuilding trust and reforming the electoral system. American elections are marred by an infrastructure that is rickety, excludes too many, and is prone to partisan manipulation and deliberate voter suppression that often targets communities of color and young people.

Our election system, on which our democracy is built, has, and continues to be, under attack by those seeking to undermine the founding principles of our nation and we must not only protect it, but also ensure it can be accessed by all. We need to invest in our election system.

“Elections aren’t just about making yourself heard; elections are about lifting up your community’s needs – about coming together to articulate a shared vision for a better future,” says Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project National Office. “Tomorrow, we will vote to advance this movement – but our work won’t stop there. We’re looking forward to continuing to fight alongside you, shoulder to shoulder, to win justice and equality for all people.” “Black voters were disenfranchised and could have made the difference, which means that their voices weren’t heard.”

Even in the midst of a pandemic and attempts to make voting harder, unhealthier, and less accessible, voters have risen above the fray and turned out in record numbers, said Myrna PĂ©rez, Director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Program, and leads the Program’s research, advocacy, and litigation work nationwide. To be clear, it does not appear that any of these lawsuits will impact the outcome of the election. But as a lawyer for the voters, I would be the first to say it isn’t about electoral outcomes — it is about voting rights.

The voting process should be simple, convenient, and fair for everyone. We have to lead the way in developing and promoting automatic voter registration (AVR), in which eligible voters are automatically registered when they have contact with government agencies, unless they opt out. It’s a reform that is already dramatically reshaping registration by making it much easier to get on the rolls. Congress should restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, and states should supplement those protections. Misinformation and disinformation is real in this country. We had lots of these in this election.

A lot of the work that the Brennan Center does is on behalf of communities of color. We work with groups that serve them, are them, or represent them. We amplify voices to certain audiences; making sure that those issues are recognized as American issues and values. We can always do better, but there’s definitely an inclusion and racial justice lens animating what the voting team does and why we do it, said Myrna.

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