Earlier this year, President Trump disbanded his sham “Election Integrity” commission after documents confirmed what many of us had suspected all along: the commission, led by serial vote-suppressor Kris Kobach, was a thinly-veiled attempt to justify harsh new voting restrictions that would benefit one political party over another.
While Trump’s bogus commission has been dissolved, that hasn’t stopped the Trump administration from other less brazen but equally effective tactics to make it harder for eligible voters to vote.
Under this president, the Justice Department has reversed policies established by previous administrations to protect ballot access, chosen not to defend those who have had their voting rights infringed, and sided in court with state-level officials when lawsuits allege their policies are designed to discourage and dissuade potential voters.
Here in Arkansas, we’re no strangers to efforts to infringe on voting rights. In 2016, we took action when the Arkansas Secretary of State appeared to violate the National Voter Registration Act by attempting to purge 7,000 voters from the voter registry based on erroneous data. We contacted voters to help them get back on the rolls. The ACLU of Arkansas also challenged a previous voter ID requirement and won. Before it was struck down, the law caused over 1,200 lawful ballots to not be counted. Polling places are constantly being closed, and a new voter ID law – worse than the last one – is on the ballot this November.
The right to vote is fundamental to the protection of every other right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. If eligible voters are blocked from making their voice heard on election day, elected officials can’t be held accountable for enacting policies that reflect the will of the people they serve. And when authorities won’t do their civic duty, like working to ensure as many eligible voters cast their ballot as possible, it is all the more important for ordinary citizens to do ours.
While we continue to fight voter suppression in the courts, everyday citizens have a role to play as well. According to Pew, approximately 21 percent of eligible citizens are not registered to vote – and more than 60 percent have never even been asked.
Helping people register to vote is a fun and easy way to strengthen our democracy and make a difference where you live.
We’ve compiled a set of easy-to-use resources with all the information you need to register voters and help them make their voices heard. Registering to vote is the first step Arkansans must take before they can cast a ball at the polls, so helping people register – or update their registration status – will go a long way towards boosting turnout.
As our fundamental rights and values are increasingly under assault from the Trump administration and its allies, the challenges facing our state and nation can seem overwhelming.
But that can’t be an excuse for inaction – especially with the all-important midterm elections less than 80 days away.
Registering voters is something everyone can do to strengthen our communities and hold our elected officials accountable.
So next time you see something on the news that makes your blood boil, take action! Grab a clipboard and help strengthen our democracy – one voter at a time.