Voter Suppression Reports In The 2018 Midterms Reveal What Was Happening Around The Country
As polls across the country close, reports of possible voter suppression in the 2018 midterm elections have continued to emerge.
Some tribal IDs of Native American voters were allegedly not accepted at a polling place in a county near Standing Rock, North Dakota, Mother Jones reports. Those voters who were affected eventually were allowed to use their IDs to vote, however.
North Dakota tribal leaders had to print around 3,500 new tribal IDs for Native Americans to comply with the state’s new voter ID law, which went into effect Nov. 6, according to ABC News. The new law requires North Dakotans to provide an ID with a residential address in order to vote, which is a challenge for Native Americans who live in rural communities or on reservations that don’t have physical addresses.
In Dodge City, Kansas, voting rights activists provided rides to the polling place in response to election officials moving it 3 miles away (and a mile outside the city limits), USA Today reported. Election officials reportedly cited road construction — which hasn’t started yet — as the reason behind the move. But voting rights activists feared the change would suppress turnout among minority voters; that’s why volunteers were stationed at the former polling place to offer free rides to voters, according to USA Today.
Pedro Hernandez was one of the voters who showed up at the old Fort Dodge polling place and accepted a ride from the volunteers. "It was easy," Hernandez told USA Today in Spanish through a translator. "It was my first time and I was a little nervous, but I wanted to vote because now I'm a citizen."
Nationwide, Americans have been also reporting voter suppression through an unexpected source: late-night TV host Samantha Bee’s mobile app, according to The Verge. Bee partnered with The Democracy Labs to turn the app, This Is Not a Game: The Game, into a tool for reporting voter suppression, and people have since reported more than 800 instances of alleged voter suppression across the country. The Democracy Labs then works to verify these claims of voter suppression, which have allegedly doubled over the course of Election Day, The Verge reports.
Adam Werbach, product manager for This Is Not a Game, told The Verge that players have been all over the country sending in reports of voter suppression.
“Most of the map is populated by Bee’s players," Werbach told The Verge. "And then a lot of volunteers [from The Democracy Labs] have sorted through those to try to find which ones are high priority and make sure they get reported to the local authorities and to national efforts to make sure that voter suppression doesn’t happen.”
Concerns of voter suppression have also come up in the Georgia midterm election in the race between Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Among the concerns, according to The Atlantic, are claims that Kemp has attempted to restrict voter rights by purging around 1.4 million voters from the Georgia records, canceling voter registrations, and passing an "exact match" voter registration law that requires handwritten voter registrations to be identical to personal documents. Kemp has denied all allegations of voter suppression.
Voter suppression can take a lot of different forms, so the best way to protect yourself (and others) is by educating yourself on ways your voting rights can be suppressed. The American Civil Liberties Union is also a great resource on voter suppression and your rights. Knowing your rights is the most powerful tool you've got in your voting toolkit.