Nevada has a long history of protecting voting rights — as it has protected abortion access — with major expansions of vote-by-mail options in just the past two years. But, with many state legislatures making it more difficult for voters in other parts of the country to cast a ballot, we must continue to loudly advocate for voting rights, even if our message sounds like it’s on a loop.
We can take advantage of this difficult moment and recommit ourselves to stopping a dangerous national trend toward voter-suppression, which has an extremely disproportionate impact on communities of color and those with low incomes.
The reality is the same rhetoric and tactics of politicians who are bent on curtailing voting and abortion rights in other states can also be heard here at home. That’s why it's essential to understand the landscape of voting rights in our home state and in the country while also educating our communities about how the fight continues.
Why is it important for Nevadans to stand up during this time of national voter suppression efforts?
When I was growing up on the East Side of Las Vegas, I witnessed first-hand the diversity of people who are drawn to this city of glitz and glam. Las Vegas has always been more than the famous strip, the wonky downtown area, the outlet malls. It’s extremely diverse, with folks coming from all over the world to live and work.
Part of that diversity is the state's strong Latinx community. As a member of that community, I’ve often noticed that there was always a lack of information for us — critical information about civic engagement and public health. Information that could have a huge impact on education opportunities and health outcomes for entire neighborhoods.
That information is lacking due in large part to the systemic racism and disenfranchisement of people of color that permeates all aspects of civic life in this country. Whether it’s access to health care, education, or simply finding a polling place in your neighborhood, it comes as no surprise that the deeply entrenched racist systems of this country result in worse health outcomes and voter disenfranchisement and disenchantment.
Ensuring that communities of color are able to make their voices heard at the ballot box is reason enough to continue advocating for voting rights. But it’s crucially important that all Nevadans have the information they need to safely and easily cast their vote, because their ability to receive reproductive health care, including abortion care, is also directly tied to their ability to cast their vote safely and with no unnecessary barriers or restrictions.
It’s no coincidence that some of the states with the most restrictive voting laws are also states with the most restrictive abortion laws. Already we witnessed Roe crumble in Texas late last year and other states like Florida are following suit and it comes as no surprise that legislatures in both of these states have passed increasingly undemocratic voting restrictions. The end game of these anti-democratic measures is clear — suppressing a person's right to vote plays a large role in suppressing someone else's right to safe, accessible abortion care.
I hope my little sister reads this one day and understands why I taught her about Planned Parenthood at such an early age, as she watches the nation look itself in the mirror at this particular time in our history. At Planned Parenthood, we are acknowledging our own difficult history while also deepening our work with our communities on these issues because we know that our lives and futures depend on it.
We must ensure that our communities have the power to participate in a system that is so often engineered to exclude and disempower us. We will make our voices heard.
What does voter suppression mean to you? Share your story here.