Election 2020National

Voter Suppression Includes Long Lines Faced by Minority Communities

As poll after poll — even those from sources like GOP-friendly Fox News — show Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s lead increasing over President Donald Trump, Americans remain skeptical about whether to trust the numbers.

Significantly, voters remain afraid because they understand that U.S. elections and American democracy continue to be under attack.

“And a power grab is still unfolding, marked by legal games, voter suppression, a crippled postal system and a politicized Supreme Court, which may decide a disputed election,” three political observers wrote in an op-ed for NBC News.

Leanne Watt, a clinical psychologist, Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush and Philip B. Stark, an associate dean of mathematical and physical sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, opined, “Americans are scared … regardless of what the polls suggest.”

“Meanwhile,” they continued, “all electronic voting machines, whether directly connected to the internet or not, remain vulnerable to hacking and fraud.”

The efforts to suppress the vote have become more apparent. Most recent examples include the California Republican Party acknowledging that it placed containers deceptively marked as “official” mail-ballot drop-boxes in Los Angeles, Fresno and Orange counties.

State election officials describe such sites, which could be used to eliminate ballots, as illegal.

In Texas, a federal court of appeals ruled to reinstate restrictions allowing one ballot drop-off location per county, a measure that forces thousands of potential voters to travel hours if they wish to cast their ballot.

Last week, on the last official day of voter registration in Virginia, a system crash suddenly halted voting. Longer than usual lines have confounded voters in Georgia, North Carolina and several other states with some individuals reporting a wait of more than 11 hours to vote.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s benchmark touts a wait of not more than 30 minutes.

However, reports have demonstrated that unusually long wait times regularly occur in communities with high minority populations.

A 2019 study by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Chicago used smartphone data to quantify the racial disparity in waiting times at polls across the country.

The study revealed that race counts as the strongest predictor of how long a person waits in line to vote. Residents of all-Black neighborhoods waited 29 percent longer with 74 percent more likely to spend more than 30 minutes waiting to vote.

“The Republican party is actively orchestrating a well-calculated comprehensive voter-suppression agenda that involves GOP leaders at the federal, state and local level,” said Kris Parker, an attorney and political consultant who has worked on several campaigns including as a regional director for President Barack Obama.

“The absolute and unequivocal intent of their actions is to suppress voter turnout,” Parker declared.

“When you consider the president’s repeated undermining of mail-in-voting with his administration’s dismantling of the post office, along with the actions by state leaders to limit ballot drop-off locations, it becomes painfully clear that the GOP is shamelessly and openly attempting to make it more difficult for people to vote during a worldwide pandemic. These coordinated efforts will almost certainly affect the turnout and could very well affect the outcomes in elections with razor-thin margins,” Parker said.

Carol Gee, an African-American retired military veteran and author, said she’s mortified by attempts to suppress the vote and intimidate voters.

“I am 70 years young and cannot remember this happening during any other election,” Gee stated. “I pray folks will vote all of these [people] out of office.”

Lindsey Cormack, an assistant professor of Political Science at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, noted that making voting more difficult suppresses the vote.

“By throwing more hurdles on a track, the race is harder to compete, and some people may just throw their hands up in frustration,” said Cormack, a scholar on voter turnout initiatives.

“People of color who have been historically targeted for voter suppression — those with limited English proficiency, people with disabilities, small children at home, and seniors — are all disadvantaged when voting is made more difficult,” Cormack said.

The trio of political observers who wrote the NBC News op-ed advised voters to remain alert to potential suppression, intimidation efforts and other voting obstacles.

“If you see evidence of voter suppression, voter intimidation, or obstacles such as long lines or broken machines that are making it difficult to vote, it’s important to say something,” they wrote.

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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