Rep. John Lewis from Georgia is co-sponsoring a constitutional amendment that would guarantee people the right to vote. This is amazingly not already guaranteed in our nation and has become a problem. It simply states that every citizen has the right to vote and Congress shall have the ability to enforce this right.
In 2016, 14 states implemented new restrictions that would infringe on a person’s right to vote. Some states put forth ID laws that limited participation. Other states gerrymandered folks into new districts and new precincts. And many states keep felons from voting for many years after they have served their time and made amends.
In Georgia, we have become the chosen example of voter suppression. Exact match turned people away for anything from marriage and divorce name changes to administrative spelling errors. We purged our voting rolls, removing people who thought they were otherwise registered. And, we closed rural precincts with very little notice given to voters. All of these issues tend to impact lower income communities and citizens of color disproportionately.
In Hall County, we have again come around to the discussion of implementing bilingual ballots. This past election highlighted this need, as we had several disagreements over translating ballots right here in Hall.
So keeping all of this in mind, what can be done to improve our system? It is time for us to consider an opt-in voting system in which anyone who has the ability to vote has the opportunity. Or even same day registration. Also, our elections should have impartial supervision to avoid the mistakes of the Georgia governor’s race.
Whatever the solution, our Rep. Doug Collins should support John Lewis and this constitutional protection of the right to vote. As John Lewis says, “The vote is the most powerful and nonviolent tool for change that we have in a democratic society.” Let’s protect our right.