voter suppression

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    There will undoubtedly be some long lines today at the polls. It is incredibly frustrating that in recent years long voting lines have become commonplace in many counties around the U.S., but it has never been more critical that we stay in line. If you aren’t sure about where you can vote, go to vote.org and use their Polling Place Locator. Here are a few tips to remember when going to vote today:

    1. Dress comfortably and neutrally
    Depending on the length of the line, which for some in early voting was up to ten hours, you could be outside for a while. Remember to dress for the weather as well as wear suitable shoes that you would feel comfortable standing in for some time.

    It’s also a good idea to dress neutrally. “States ban electioneering (a.k.a. campaigning) within a certain radius of a polling place and, depending on where you live, that can include simply wearing political garb, such as buttons, T-shirts, and hats…” InStyle points out. Most importantly, don’t forget your masks.

    2. Bring something to do

    Bring a book or headphones. Today is stressful, and sometimes there’s nothing better than getting lost in a book or one of your favorite artist’s new albums. You could even listen to BUST’s podcast, Poptarts!

    3. Don’t forget snacks and water

    Unfortunately, there are no breaks for meals at polls. You may have to stand in line past dinner time, so bringing snacks could be a good idea. If you are in a long line and forget, all hope is not lost! You can report it to Pizza to the Polls, an organization that collects reports of long lines from people around the country and finds local pizza places to deliver food to voters.

    4. Have the “Election Protection Hotline” on hand

    If you need help or see any form of voter intimidation, you have rights! You can call 866-687-8683 or 866-OUR-VOTE. This hotline provides all Americans with comprehensive information and assistance at all voting stages, don’t hesitate to call if you need help. If you are turned away at the polls because your name can’t be found on the voter rolls, it is your right to ask for a provisional ballot with a receipt.

    5. Whatever you do, stay in line!

    It is okay to feel angry with what feels like an outdated voting system, but your vote counts. If our votes didn’t make an impact, our government would not try so hard to deter us from it. If you are in line before the polls close, it is your right to make your voice heard.

    Top Image via Unsplash/ stevehb

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    As of Wednesday morning, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams isn’t conceding her race—and she shouldn’t.

    According to CNN’s most recent results, Republican Brian Kemp is only winning by around 66,000 votes, and his lead continues to wither. He currently has 50.4% of the vote to Abrams’ 48.7%, and if both percentages dip under 50%, there will be a runoff in December, CNN reported.

    If she wins, Abrams will be America’s first-ever black female governor. Her platform promises housing equity, accessible ways to vote, and criminal justice reform, according to her website. “In Georgia, civil rights has always been act of will and a battle for our souls,” Abrams said in a speech, available on the Huffington Post and many other major outlets, following projections that Kemp would win. “Democracy only works when we work for it, when we fight for it, and, apparently today, when we stand in line for hours to meet it at the ballot box.”

    These results follow an extended struggle with severe voter suppression in Georgia—at the hands of Kemp. As CBS reported a couple weeks ago, Kemp is currently facing lawsuits for stalling over 53,000 voter registration applications with a new “exact match” law he implemented; the Atlantic noted that over 70% of these applications came from black voters. Kemp also closed polling locations near many predominantly black communities. As Georgia’s Secretary of State, he oversees the entire state’s voting process and election system, but has consistently insisted that this somehow isn’t a bias. 

    “He is someone who is tilting the playing field in his direction and in the direction of his party. It is absolutely voter suppression,” Abrams told CBS. Between 2016 and 2018, the Atlantic reported, Kemp purged over 1.5 million voters and shut down 214 polling locations.

    The suppression continued throughout Election Day, too. Around Georgia, particularly in black neighborhoods around Atlanta, machines were faulty and even shut down. The New Yorker reported on Tuesday that one polling location, which had always hosted at least 10 voting machines, only had three this year, forcing voters to wait hours—and, as a result, to leave before voting. One voter described a scene of chaos to the New Yorker: “She says that one poll worker was asking voters their age, ‘then pushing them to the front of the line, arbitrarily.’ When she finally got to her machine, [she] was concerned that it was ‘malfunctioning,’ she wrote, as it would not let her change a selection she had made inadvertently.’”

    In a beautiful twist, though, the disorganization in Georgia even affected Kemp himself: the Huffington Post wrote that he was turned away from his polling station for having an “invalid” ID.

    Abrams still hasn’t conceded, citing large uncounted numbers of absentee ballots. If you’re a Georgia voter, you can call Abrams’ Voter Protection Hotline at 1-888-730-5816 to guarantee your vote was counted. And if you’re able, you can donate to her team to combat disenfranchisement, and stand up against Kemp, who is all-around the worst. Georgia deserves a governor who cares about equality, accessibility, and the fight for every vote.

     

     

    Top photo via Twitter / @StaceyAbrams

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    Election Defenders, a nonpartisan group of volunteers fighting voter suppression, has teamed up with the musical movement, Joy to the Polls, to ease voter anxiety through curated playlists. The campaign started in Philadelphia this October, gathering artists to perform outside various voting sites across the country. 

    In an interview with The Guardian, Nelini Stamp, Election Defenders campaign director, says, “We have rampant voter suppression in the US…It [all] could scare people from voting. So our approach is to try and focus on the positive, to ask ourselves, how can we be as positive as possible within a really scary situation?” Music, Stamp says, “serves as a great de-escalator because it sets the tone…It was super beautiful! There were even some poll workers who came out with us when their shifts were done to get down on with us.”

    Now, the #JoytothePolls campaign has collaborated with celebrities and public figures to deliver some feel-good playlists to voters, available to stream on Spotify. In addition to these curated tracks, Stamps says, “We are calling on all voters to make their own playlists to deliver a clear, joyful message that we will protect our democracy from this pandemic and from voter suppression wherever it shows up.”

    If you’re on your way to the polls today or daunted by the line ahead of you, tune in to these great playlists at #JoytothePolls on Spotify.

    Top photo from #JoytothePolls on Instagram.

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