America is synonymous with the land of the free and home of the brave. Its national anthem says just that. And in many ways, it has proven to be true over the years. America’s rich history shows how the Americans fought for their rights and gained the freedom every American now enjoys. Early American patriots gave up their lives so that the future generation will be free to live as they wish, free from the influence of others.
As the country freed itself from the hands of the conquerors, it had to deal with various internal conflicts before it became the great nation that it is today. Slavery was a thing in the past and black people were not considered as equals by White Americans. Women were also not considered as equals and they had to fight for their right to be equal with men and to be able to exercise their right to suffrage as well. The journey was a long and challenging one and it is still a work in progress but Americans are active in protecting their rights, especially the right to vote for the leader they want to lead the country. The majority even managed to put in office a total novice who is so full of himself and known for his racist nature. But of course, let us all give him the benefit of the doubt and wait for him to deliver his promise of greatness before passing judgment on him and his leadership skills.
In 2013, Chief Justice John Roberts made a sweeping declaration about the state of voting rights in America. “Our country has changed,” he wrote in his majority opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, “and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”
With those words, Roberts and four other justices on the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a hammer of a civil-rights law that helped bludgeon recalcitrant states toward multiracial democracy. The majority concluded Congress was relying on out-of-date data when formulating which jurisdictions still had to receive federal approval to change their election laws and policies—a practice known as preclearance that’s meant to block discriminatory measures. Four justices, led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, denounced the decision in stark terms. “Hubris is a fit word for today’s demolition of the VRA,” she wrote in dissent.
But it seems that the idea of America enjoying true democracy isn’t as good as it seems. With constant issues of discrimination and abuse that are often shown on TV, one may wonder what the truth really is. Acquaint yourself with these minor and often unheard voting issues that seem to plague modern-day America especially if you are a part of the minority.
The U.S. prides itself on being the world’s greatest democracy, but across the country, millions of people are denied the right to vote. More than half of all states require voters to show ID when they cast a ballot, yanking the most vulnerable in U.S. society from the electoral process.
On Monday, a federal judge ruled that Texas’ electoral law, which requires voters to show photo ID before casting a ballot, intentionally discriminates against black and Hispanic voters. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, ethnic minorities, along with low-income, disabled and elderly voters, are less likely to have government-issued identification.
Before the ruling—the fifth time in four years a court has found Texas’ voting laws discriminatory—a Texas voter was required to show one of six types of photo ID. If they failed to provide any, they could cast a provisional ballot and either present identification within six days of doing so or declare that they had a religious objection to being photographed or had lost their identification in a natural disaster.
America has seen its fair share of disasters both natural and man-made, so it is not unlikely for people to lose important documents over the years. However, cases of discrimination are old news and even President Trump himself is a known bigot throughout the world. How could he prioritize the travel ban soon after assuming office if he doesn’t think lowly of these foreigners, right?
While the new administration continues to focus on unsubstantiated claims of vote fraud, across the country, communities continue to wrestle with the real and significant impact of voter suppression and voting discrimination. Some of the most egregious forms of voter suppression often play out in rural and isolated communities that are not under the national spotlight.
Take, for example, an issue from last Fall out of rural and majority-African-American Hancock County, one of the most economically disadvantaged counties in Georgia. The county’s majority-White Board of Elections decided to strip African-Americans of the right to vote on the eve of a hotly contested local election in which White candidates were challenging African-American incumbents for the Mayor and City Council of Sparta.
Modern technology may have taken our lives to a whole new level but there are certain grassroots issues that persist. Voting problems are quite common especially in places that are not accessible to many, like in rural areas all over America. It just goes to show that the U.S. still has a long way to go before it can show the world the face of real freedom. While people are given a chance to shape the nation every election by electing leaders they believe will uphold the American ideals, not all the time they make the right choices. At times, these mistakes can be costly and leave the country with an incompetent leader who is far more comfortable using Twitter than in addressing the issues that affect the land and its people. In this case, many starts to doubt the value of voting rights when others don’t seem to grasp the power and importance of their votes and how they affect the country and the world as a whole.