4 Political Tactics That Compromise Millennials’ Right To Vote
For a democracy to truly be as such, it must have free and fair elections where the people can make their voices heard. But, politicians do not always want the public to get their way at the ballot box.
Many politicians work to disenfranchise segments of the population that they don’t anticipate will vote a certain way — their certain way.
Politicians target their efforts at people who are most likely to vote against them. They create barriers for registration, like shortening early voting periods, imposing unfair requirements for those who are already registered and many other tactics with similar objectives.
They aim to maintain the status quo and prevent the type of change Millennials know to be necessary.
The powerful among us know that politicians control government and those elected officials within it. Therefore, they leverage this control to augment voting rights.
Corporate-backed entities have worked hard to lobby government to change this trend. Here are some of the tactics politicians use and powerful interests to make sure our democracy remains rigged:
Many states are putting laws in place that make registering to vote very difficult. A good example is Maine, a state where people in that state have, for decades, been able to register to vote at the ballot box.
In 2010, when the Republicans took over, this right was rescinded to combat “voter fraud,” even though there had been only been two instances of voter fraud in a 40-year time period. In other words, voting fraud was not an issue.
Luckily for democracy, Maine is a progressive state; its voters would not stand for this and overturned the laws the following year. The same cannot be said in Florida and Texas, though, as Republican state legislatures there passed laws preventing non-profit organizations from helping voters register.
This is one example of blatant voter suppression that takes place in states all over the country and with one objective in mind: prevent citizens from exercising their electoral voices.
The point of this is to make it tougher for out-of-state college kids (Millennials) to vote, along with everyone else who has permanent residences. College kids are typically progressive and do not vote with powerful interests.
Instead, they are more likely to vote for progressive candidates who challenge the status quo and seek to restore liberty to the people and sanity to the system. But, this, of course, is not what the powerful want, so they use their influence to pass laws that make it difficult for these young people to vote.
Every vote counts and these attempts to disenfranchise Gen-Y highlights this.
Limitations On Early Voting
We can all remember the election fiasco of 2000, which was plagued with voter issues. In an attempt to avoid issues like long lines, swing states like Ohio and Florida decided to allow early voting to avoid these problems.
Then, however, they realized that by making it easier to vote, more people will vote. This is especially true for working Millennials who do not have the time to wait several hours to vote or the economic clout to ask their employers for the time off.
This was a Republican blunder, as it meant that in 2008, more than half of Florida’s voters voted early and easily, and the Democrats took it, helping President Obama into office.
In the following years, legislatures in Florida and other key states worked hard to limit early voting so the same outcome of allowing everyone to vote would not repeat.
Voter ID Laws
These are laws that say a person can only vote if he or she has a particular type of identification. No big deal, right? Well, actually, there are many people who do not have such identifications, and these laws effectively disenfranchise anyone without identification.
We have all been in situations when the address on our driver’s license is not necessarily the place we rest our heads at night, but should this really mean that we lose our ability to vote?
When you add together all of these strategies, a whole lot of people who would not be voting for the status quo become disenfranchised. Elections are often decided by a handful of people, and therefore, these voter suppression tactics do a lot to ensure that democracy is obstructed.
The consequence of these practices is that they produce a disconnect between the politician who is elected and the people whom he or she is supposed to represent. When this happens, many people lose their representation – Gen-Y included.
Voter suppression can only continue if we let it; we must demand more of our leaders and the system in which they exist. Our system empowers us, but we must take that power back from those who have taken it from us.
Photo Courtesy: Susan Larson