Voter suppression often disenfranchises people who belong to historically oppressed and vulnerable communities. People of color, the elderly, the LGBTQ community, students, people with disabilities, people with low incomes, and others are finding their political participation either denied or restricted. There are already so many roadblocks towards participating in voting for these communities: not having the required form of identification, being unable to take off time to vote with the risk of waiting hours at the polling location, and limited or no transportation to get to polls.
These disenfranchised groups just happen to be some of the very same communities who are hurt most by laws that block access to high quality, affordable health care at Planned Parenthood. The ability to preserve and expand access for reproductive care rests on the right to vote. Without the right to vote, individuals lose their power to choose, quite literally.
What’s more, we’ve already seen the impact of recent voter suppression laws.
The 2016 presidential race witnessed the impact of voters bearing the brunt of voter suppression without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. From the 2010 midterm election to September 2016, 20 states put new restrictions in effect — including 14 states that implemented the restrictions in 2016.
The fallout of these restrictions made itself quite clear during this primary season. In South Carolina, vague photo identification requirements presented major roadblocks for low-income and minority voters. Meanwhile, the voter ID law in Wisconsin possibly prevented some 300,000 registered voters from casting ballots.
With so much at stake in every election, it is important that every voter has the ability to elect the candidate of their choice — free of unjust and inequitable voter suppression tactics. The history of our country shows that we are better off when more people have a voice in our political process. We should be passing laws that make it easier to vote, not harder. So let’s tell Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act!