By Tami Warren
Literacy tests and poll taxes were used to prevent Black Americans from voting, in 1964 the 24th amendment was ratified eliminating poll taxes which disproportionately impacted Black Americans. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited discriminatory voting practices based on race or color, yet still voter suppression and voter intimidation continues, aimed primarily at Black voters. We are still witnessing voter suppression efforts today with the practice of exact match in Georgia by Brain Kemp running against Stacey Abrams for governor, if Abrams wins the election, she will be the first Black female governor in Georgia. Exact match, basically means that a person may be denied the right to vote if one’s voter registration does not match exactly with one’s social security card or driver’s license, if there is a typed extra space or differing abbreviation (i.e. Road with or without a period reflected as Rd. or Rd) that voter registration may be placed on hold. Here’s the curious piece of Kemp’s exact match practice in Georgia, it has an overwhelmingly negative impact on Black voters.
In addition to running for governor, Kemp is also the Secretary of State, placing him in charge of how this election is decided. This is not an example of extraordinary multitasking abilities on the part of Kemp, rather an example of extraordinary methods Republicans are employing to gain an unfair advantage in elections. Let’s not forget it was Kemp who refused to accept assistance with election interference in the 2016 Presidential election, despite receiving FBI flash alerts, warning of hacking by Russians. Kemp completely dismissed the credible warnings, saying in reference to Russian interference, “it is not probable at all.” It actually was probable and did take place. Thereafter Kemp ordered the servers in Georgia to be wiped, hindering a detailed investigation of the server with regard to election interference. Kemp professes that he is not engaged in voter suppression, describing the lawsuit against him on this issue as a smokescreen to cover what in his opinion are Abrams radical views, referring to Abrams receiving an “F” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA), her support to end the cash bail system (which negatively impacts poor people), her support of the LGBTQ community, the protection of voter rights and Abrams stance to safeguard women’s healthcare choices.
To Kemp’s credit, he does have a literally explosive political advertisement in which there is an apparent explosion, and he stands in front of guns, lots of guns. The exact match we are observing matches America’s history of tactics aimed at preventing Black communities from voting, the continuation of intimidation Black voters have faced throughout history when attempting to exercise the right to vote. An exact match with America’s record of making voting a difficult process for minorities, creating hoops and hurdles minorities are forced to traverse simply to cast a ballot. Joe Madison, was sagacious is describing this as, “James Crow Esq. a sophisticated cousin of Jim Crow.” We must see tangible support from white allies to help end voter suppression or it will keep happening, as the Supreme Court in recent years has displayed a lack of urgency to ensure the right to vote is aptly secured for all Americans.
While Trump is wasting time making statements about Native American heritage in relation to Elizabeth Warren, right now in North Dakota, Native Americans are enduring barriers to exercise their right to vote as the Republican controlled government is requiring residents to show identification with a current address. A bonus for Republicans, as many Native Americans, live on reservations, which don’t have physical street addresses. Native Americans in North Dakota rely on their tribal identifications, which do not list addresses, these are the same identifications they presented previously to vote, however Republicans moved the goal posts, with a requirement numerous Native Americans are not readily able to obtain. White allies, stand with Black people, stand with Native Americans, stand with all people of color and help stop these injustices. The actual smokescreen is the false outcry of widespread voter fraud, extolled by Republicans. It would take suspension of disbelief to actually believe the hurdles Republicans across the nation, are implementing, which primarily target the access and ability for people of color to vote, has nothing to do with race. Republicans are willing to suspend what is left of their critical faculties, sacrificing logic and realism for the sake of a party win to support their supreme leader. Voting rights supersede party affiliation.