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What Will It Take to Stop Republicans From Maintaining Structural Racism in Our Voting?

What Georgia did yesterday was criminal, a racist crime against our democracy, and it’s time to criminalize voter suppression once and for all.

People wait in line to vote in Georgia's Primary Election on June 9, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

People wait in line to vote in Georgia's Primary Election on June 9, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

Yesterday we saw the Republican’s number one voter suppression strategy on display, as black areas in Georgia were absolutely deprived of enough voting machines and polling places to accommodate their citizens, producing lines as long as six hours to vote.

While that is infuriating in and of itself, the real crime here is that the media continues to refuse to report on this for what it is: structural racism that produces naked voter suppression.

The media continues to be amazed and surprised, reporting on these long lines as if they are some sort of natural disaster. There’s nothing natural about them at all.

The Republican’s number one strategy for voter suppression is, and has been for decades, to make it difficult for black and Hispanic people to vote, while making it easy and fast for people in white neighborhoods to vote.

It’s time to update our Voting Rights Act to include a requirement that every state provide citizens with the ability to easily vote from the comfort and safety of their own homes by mail.

Louise and I lived in Georgia for 13 years, in upscale northern Atlanta suburbs, and I never waited more than 15 minutes to vote. At the same time, every single election, we read stories in the local press about black people in downtown Atlanta having to wait three, five, even eight hours to vote.

But it was never called “voter suppression” in the Georgia media when we lived there, and that was 30 years ago. It’s only rarely called voter suppression in the mainstream media today, either, which should shock us all.

Instead, the media narrative is that Georgia was using new machines and had poorly trained workers who just weren’t “prepared” to deal with the new systems. But that problem was limited to black neighborhoods, as has been every other serious voting problem for over a century.

Because forcing long lines representsthe GOP’s number one most effective voter suppression technique, and it requires forcing people to show up at the polling place to vote in order to work, Republicans, from the RNC to Trump to statewide Republican parties, are screaming and suing and doing everything else they can to block voting by mail.

Oregon, where I live, has had voting by mail for more than 20 years and never had a problem. In fact, we have one of the highest voter participation rates in the country.

The simple reality, as LeBron James recently pointed out, is that when Republicans hold the power to regulate voting systems, they structure them in ways that produce racist outcomes. It is, literally, structural racism.

It’s time to update our Voting Rights Act to include a requirement that every state provide citizens with the ability to easily vote from the comfort and safety of their own homes by mail. And it is essential that the media start calling this what it is: Republican voter suppression.

What Georgia did yesterday was criminal, a racist crime against our democracy, and it’s time to criminalize voter suppression once and for all.

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