I am writing in response to an opinion from May 5, 2021, authored by Connie Clements. The great thing about opinions is everyone is entitled, but not everyone has to agree. I respectfully disagree with Ms. Clements “Case for self-inflicted voter suppression” because voter suppression is not a “buzzword” as it was so cleverly referred to in Ms. Clements’ article, but historically for minorities; suppressive exploits in voting are a reality.
History provides documented narratives of the many acts perpetrated against minorities in order to silence our voices at the polls. From the end of the Reconstruction Era in 1876, to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, policymakers, especially in the South, designed obstacles for Black voters that marginalized minority voter participation.
Poll taxes, literacy tests, gerrymandering and absurd strategies like guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar, were used to prohibit Blacks from voting during the Jim Crow era. Poll taxes were eradicated by the 24th Amendment in 1964, and literacy tests were prohibited under the Voting Rights Act. However gerrymandering, the arranging of a territorial unit into election districts that gives one political party an unfair advantage over the other, is a form of voter suppression that remains today.
The number of eligible minority voters has increased significantly since the 1920s, but sadly the individuals who actually vote in elections, with the exception of during years when there is a presidential race; commonly decreased. The absence of minority “voices” at polls is in my opinion due to the many years minorities were silenced by voter suppression. Being repeatedly denied the opportunity to exercise what is supposed to be a right, can discourage and cause some to accept this as the standard. This “standard” established a lack of voting tradition for generations to come.
According to psychologists, something that is routinely exercised becomes a habit in 21 days. If it takes only 21 days to create a habit, the lack of voting tradition by minorities birthed out of numerous years of suppression, is an unfortunate habit that demands breaking!
We can break this habit by respectfully communicating with and educating individuals. However, using our platform to publicly shame others shows a lack of respect and skillful communication, as well as exposes the need of education within our community. But, this is only my opinion.