After every election, we hear about how voter fraud damages the integrity of the electoral process, amplifying mistrust over election results. Over the past three years, it has become a non-stop chant as certain people try to convince the country - and not a few courts - that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen despite no evidence.
On the contrary, it’s been deemed the safest and least corrupt election in our history.
However, there is one brand of election fraud that’s been around for more than a century. But, it has been perpetuated against voters by the establishment and it takes many forms: voter disenfranchisement.
The integrity of the electoral process is a cornerstone of our democracy. However, in recent times, concerns over election fraud and disenfranchisement have surged, casting a shadow over the sanctity of the ballot box.
Join us as we explore the intricacies of this blight on election integrity, detail 10 ways the establishment parties work to stifle our voices, and explain why supporting independent candidates offers a remedy.
Disenfranchisement is a practice of disqualifying voters. It can be accomplished through creating laws that disproportionately affect people of color, the poor, and the elderly. Voting rights opponents also attempt to prevent citizens from exercising their legal right to vote through court challenges in specific districts.
Although previously legal barriers to voting were overcome through amendments to our constitution and the enactment of legislation like the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (aka, the Motor-Voter Bill), these protective measures where effectively neutralized by subsequent Supreme Court Cases like Shelby v. Holder that all but gutted the Voting Rights Act.
Some politicians and pundits minimize or downright deny the existence of voter disenfranchisement. They point to the repeal of historic and more blatant voter suppression tactics like poll taxes and literacy tests as proof.
However, many Jim Crow laws were still in effect as late as 1997.
While Congress has eliminated these laws from the books, there are subtler and less direct ways that the major parties prevent voters, especially those from marginalized communities and groups, from exercising their right to have their voices heard by electing candidates who represent their interests.
Here are 10 of the sneakiest legal, but unethical, ways they attempt to get away with it:
Requiring strict forms of voter identification disproportionately affects minorities and low-income voters, who may lack access to the necessary documents or finances needed to obtain valid, state-issued identification.
This can be seen as a form of election fraud that’s subtly engineered to skew voting demographics.
Supporters argue that this is a small hurdle to jump or claim that opponents of voter ID laws are just trying to enable those who are otherwise prevented from voting. Some even seem to suggest, through their actions, that all naturalized citizens and people of color share a hivemind and would illegally vote for their opponents if identification was no longer a requirement.
It also overlooks certain checks on fraudulent voting like voter registration and signature matching, which is required for both in-person and absentee voting.
The manipulation of electoral district boundaries to favor a particular party undermines the principle of fair representation. Gerrymandering often dilutes the voting power of certain groups, effectively constituting a subtle form of voter fraud.
Gerrymandering is also what keeps even the most unpopular incumbent candidates in their offices despite low approval ratings and lack of effectiveness as representatives.
Such districting has been challenged in court over the years, with mixed results. For example, the case of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc v. Raffensberger claims new redistricting maps in Georgia unfairly impact black voters and violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. This case is still ongoing.
The aggressive removal of voters from registration lists, often under the guise of maintaining updated records, can lead to eligible voters being disenfranchised. This practice can be particularly prevalent in areas with a history of voter suppression.
Although it’s important to keep voter rolls current and free of errors, this practice disproportionately affects ethnic voters and communities of color, where it’s very common for residents to have similarly spelled and multi-generational family names.
Restricting the availability of voting locations and the hours during which the polls are open can significantly impact working-class and minority voters, who may not have flexible schedules. While it may be easy for more affluent voters to take time off from work or travel to polling locations outside of their neighborhoods, poor and minority voters often work multiple jobs, work longer hours, or are unable to lose even half a day’s pay in order to vote.
Placing polling stations far from where these voters live or work sometimes requires long trips on public transportation that are both costly and inefficient.
Spreading false information about voting procedures is a serious form of election fraud. Misleading voters about polling locations, dates, or eligibility requirements can severely impact voter turnout.
Attempts to nullify mail-in ballots or spread mistrust became especially apparent when the pandemic expanded absentee and early voting out of concerns for public safety during the unprecedented public health crisis.
Insufficient or outdated voting infrastructure, leading to long lines and equipment failures, can discourage or prevent individuals from casting their vote, especially in underfunded areas. Absence of voting aids, such as minimal voter assistance at polling stations and lack of translations in multiple languages on ballots in heavily migrant communities, further inhibits voting.
Excluding individuals with felony convictions from the voting process is a contentious issue. This policy can lead to a significant portion of the population, often disproportionately affecting minority communities, being permanently disenfranchised.
Sometimes, felon disenfranchisement is combined with disinformation or clerical inaccuracies, further complicating the issue. In 2016, some 4,000 potential voters in Arkansas were erroneously removed from voter rolls after incorrectly being flagged as felons.
Voters in the state of Florida passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 allowing felons to restore their voting rights, but it has been stymied by Governor DeSantis in a series of maneuvers, including the arrest of several individuals who mistakenly voted after believing their rights had been restored.
It is important to note that 23 states only revoke felon voting rights while they are incarcerated. In Washington, D.C., Maine, and Vermont, voting rights for felons are never restricted, even while they are serving time.
Allowing political parties to have direct control over the election process can lead to conflicts of interest and accusations of voter fraud or election fraud, undermining public trust in the electoral process.
Voter suppression tactics are especially brazen in the Republican Party, whose leaders seem to feel that they have more to lose when marginalized voters are free to exercise their voting rights.
Tactics designed to intimidate voters at polling stations or through other means can suppress voter turnout. This form of coercion is a blatant violation of democratic principles.
Although attempts at voter intimidation are nothing new, the most egregious examples came amidst the widespread disinformation campaigns leading up to the 2022 midterm elections. In several states, armed individuals were spotted “guarding” drop boxes for mail-in ballots and photographing people and vehicles dropping off ballots.
For the first time, poll workers in many locations have had to take safety training in addition to their regular instruction on election processes, and election officials are seeing a decrease in the number of poll workers amid safety concerns.
Not only do such tactics increase inefficiencies at polling places and increase the time it takes citizens to vote, it also creates a chilling effect on the entire process and keeps voters home on election day.
Overly complicated voter registration procedures can act as a barrier to voter participation, especially for those with limited education or language proficiency. Although legislation like the Motor-Voter Bill and a halt on practices like automatic purging between elections seek to streamline voter registration, foes of voting access have been working overtime to make the processes of registering and voting more difficult at every turn.
Measures that prevent people from exercising their right to vote are frustrating and unfair, leading to voter apathy and reducing voter turnout. Despite legal challenges to correct these wrongs, change is slow and sometimes ineffectual.
In addition to improving civic education about voting rights and procedures, independent candidates can do their part to end voter suppression.
Independent candidates often run on platforms advocating for electoral reform and transparency. By supporting these candidates, voters can promote a political culture that prioritizes fair and open elections.
When you support independent candidates, they help protect your right to vote by:
Championing Electoral Reform: Independents can push for laws that make voting more accessible and the electoral process more transparent, directly addressing issues of election and voter fraud.
Breaking the Partisan Mold: Independent candidates, who aren’t tied to the interests of major parties, are less inclined to engage in or support disenfranchising practices.
Promoting Voter Education: Through their campaigns, independent candidates can educate the public on their voting rights and the importance of participating in the electoral process.
Election and voter fraud in the form of voter disenfranchisement is a critical issue that threatens the foundation of democracy. By understanding and recognizing these tactics, voters can take informed steps to counteract them.
Supporting independent candidates who advocate for fair and transparent elections is one way to contribute to a more equitable and representative political system.
At Good Party, we believe that all citizens have the right to vote their conscience and choose candidates who represent them instead of special interests. If you feel the same way, join us in our efforts to break the establishment stranglehold on democracy and create a more fair and equitable electoral system for all Americans.