While attacks on the American voting process are nothing new, politicians trying to make it harder to cast a ballot have stooped to new lows this year with the introduction of hundreds of bills across the country attempting to restrict the right to vote even though there has been no evidence of widespread voting irregularities.
The latest example came over the weekend, when Democratic state lawmakers in Texas walked out of the state Capitol rather than allow Republicans in the Lone Star State to curtail voting methods that were proven effective at increasing turnout during the 2020 election.
While the effort in Austin may be short-lived if Gov. Greg Abbott calls a special session for later this year, it was still important because it raised awareness for the issue. There is a broader movement to restrict voting procedures nationwide. Just this year, 14 states have approved legislation to tighten voting rules, while bills have been introduced in 48 states. Those efforts threaten fair elections all across the country come 2022.
The Teamsters are outspoken advocates for free and fair elections, going back to the union’s financial support for the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. nearly 60 years ago. While much of the focus on the assault on American democracy has been on the actions taken in 2021, the truth is this has been building for years. The Teamsters stand ready to fight back against these efforts, which frequently are targeted at working people and, particularly, workers of color.
By eliminating early and mail-in voting, removing voters from voter rolls, and shortening the times polls remain open, supportive lawmakers and their corporate cronies have attempted to eliminate U.S. citizens’ access to the ballot box.
When it comes to voting, the following protocols must be protected:
- Citizens must be allowed options on how they would like to cast their vote: by mail, by voting early, on Election Day, etc.
- Voter registration policies must ensure citizens can register to vote and stay on the rolls, including registration up to and including on Election Day.
- The right to vote should never be “use it or lose it.” As long as a voter remains eligible to cast a ballot, they should not be removed from voter rolls.
- Advocacy organizations should be allowed to help voters register to vote, including providing absentee ballot request forms to voters.
- No one should have to wait hours in line to vote. More polling places or other voting options must be implemented in neighborhoods where there is a history or evidence of long wait times.
- Individuals should have the freedom to provide food or drink to citizens in line to vote.
To ensure that voting is protected nationwide, federal legislation is a necessity. The For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act would protect the rights of voters and would also grant the federal government oversight of any legislative changes enacted at the state level.
People deserve the power to vote.