There’s currently a big struggle in the US over voting. Many Democrats are working to make it easier for people to vote. At the same time, many Republicans are working to put more limits on voting.
The attitudes of the political parties are based on the belief that Democrats are more likely to win elections when more people vote – especially poor people and people of color.
How Are People Kept From Voting?
One way to limit voters is making it harder for people to register (sign up) to vote. If the process for registering to vote is complicated, or requires special documents, fewer people will sign up.
Another step is to make it hard for people to actually vote. When voting stations are far away, or voting lines are long, it discourages people from voting. When it’s hard to get voting materials, like mail-in ballots, fewer people vote.
There are many other ways, too. Any small step that makes voting more difficult can have a big effect when it’s spread across lots of voters.
What’s Happening Now?
Efforts at limiting voters have gotten much more attention since President Joe Biden won last November’s election. One thing that helped him win was the large number of people who had recently registered to vote.
Ex-President Donald Trump blamed his loss on cheating, but never offered proof. Still, many Republicans say that if voting is easy, more cheating will happen.
At a national level, Democrats are working on a voting law called the For the People Act. The new law has many parts. One important part sets rules for states, and makes it easier for voters to register and vote. The bill has passed in the House of Representatives, but the Senate hasn’t voted on it yet.
At the state level, the situation is nearly the opposite. Republican politicians are working on over 250 bills that will make voting more difficult.
Republicans in Georgia have recently passed a law making it harder for people to vote. In general, the new law will affect poor people and people of color more. One of the extreme rules in the new law makes it illegal to give water to voters waiting in line.
The law has upset many people. At least three groups are taking Georgia’s government to court over it. Large companies based in Georgia, like Delta Airlines and the Coca-Cola Company, have said they strongly disagree with the new law.
Major League Baseball (MLB) was meant to hold its All-Star game in Atlanta in July. But MLB says it no longer plans to hold its All-Star game in Georgia because of the law.
Republicans in Texas are getting similar pressure from big businesses over the voting bill that they are working on.
Even if pressure from people and companies don’t change the new voting laws, it’s likely that many of the laws will wind up in court. In the end, it may not be politicians, but judges who decide which voting limits are legal and which are not.
Did You Know…?
Over the last hundred years or so, the two political parties have completely changed their positions on voting rights. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Republicans wanted Blacks to be able to vote, and Democrats worked to limit voting. Now those positions are reversed.