Op-Ed, Opinion

Make democracy great again

America has always been a pillar for democracy and all that it encompasses, and the backbone of that democracy is voting. Yet despite being a modern democracy, voter turnout in this country is always one of the lowest when compared to other democracies.

We’ve talked about voter suppression a lot. But why shouldn’t we? The efforts being made to disallow people the simple right to vote is anti-democratic and quite frankly, abhorrent. As said by Porsha White for HuffPost, “the civil rights movement is on the ballot this November.”

There is an awfully a lot being done this election to stop poor, disenfranchised citizens and people of color from voting. Take for example, the race for governor in Georgia. The secretary of state for Georgia, Brian Kemp, who is running against Stacey Abrams (who if elected governor would become the first African-American woman to lead any state) has purged thousands of voters from the polls, without alerting them, and refused to process 53,000 voter registrations, primarily from black citizens because of minor discrepancies like a dropped hyphen or grammatical error.

This isn’t the first time he’s been accused of voter suppression; his office has overseen the purge of more than 2 million voters since 2012. There are also new voter ID laws that disproportionately affect Native Americans in North Dakota, disallowing many of the state’s tribal nations to vote. Similarly, in Texas, a lawsuit has been filed by the NAACP citing that rural Waller County disenfranchised students of the historically black Prairie View A&M University by curtailing early voting on campus. The polling station at the school only has three days of early voting despite other places, such as the predominantly white Texas A&M University, which has two weeks.

Political disengagement isn’t always the average person’s fault. There are people who want to vote and can’t. Florida disenfranchises over a million American citizens who have had convictions in the past. Their right to vote is taken away and the process to regain those rights are almost always inconclusive. Florida voters have the chance to restore voting rights by voting yes to Amendment 4. Florida isn’t alone in disenfranchising ex-felons, but other states have tried to make it right. In 2013, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order, granting 200,000 people their voting rights back. We need to do this, but on a bigger scale.

But there is good news, too. Though it is being constantly challenged, democracy is quietly at work in this election. For the first time in a while, white men are the minority for the House Democratic nominees. This election, we’ve seen countless women and minorities running for office and exercising their right to be a crucial part of the democratic process. An analysis from Politico shows that women in the Democratic party have 180 House nominations this cycle, and there’s also a rise of women running in the Republican party.

People of color, women, and first-time candidates are at the forefront of this midterm election and it’s hopeful knowing the makeup of our government could finally be representative of the whole country and its views.

Whatever the outcome of this election is, it’s important that we never stop showing up and putting our vote where our voice is. Our democracy depends on it.

Election Day will stir up some anxiety, an anxiety that we all felt two years ago, but the best way to get over it is knowing that you’ve done everything you possibly could to get your voice out there. We hope you have.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

November 5, 2018

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