When opponents of democracy can’t win on the issues, they scheme and plot behind the scenes to manipulate democracy itself.  We have to meet this head on.

When they know that voters won’t endorse their ultra-conservative ideology, they pass restrictive, racist and unconstitutional measures to determine who gets to vote—and who doesn’t.  The new Supreme Court doesn’t care. We have to speak up and show up at the polls

This is happening right now in Georgia.  Last year the Republican-controlled State Senate introduced an “exact match” system that means a missing hyphen or a difference between a married and single name causes a voter registration to be suspended.  

Republican candidate for Governor, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, is the architect of the voter suppression campaign and is holding 53,000 registration applications over small discrepancies in how someone provided their names.  Kemp’s decision disproportionately affects Black and Latino voters with 70% of the applications being from Black Georgians.

Kemp’s opponent, Stacey Abrams has called for him to step down as the state’s top elections official due to a clear conflict of interest.  But Kemp has responded with the entirely false charge that Ms. Abrams wants noncitizens’ votes to count. “She wants illegals to vote in Georgia,” he said on Fox News.

Georgia isn’t the only state where voter suppression has become epidemic.  The Supreme Court ruled to uphold a North Dakota voter identification law which requires that thousands of voters present an ID which includes a residential address, potentially restricting the rights of tens of thousands of Native Americans and other rural voters who lack such addresses.  

And Florida is one of only four states that still has a system that prevents people from earning back the eligibility to vote for life even when they’ve served their time for felony convictions.  Voting rights advocates are fighting back in the states. A ballot initiative in November returns voting rights to Floridians who have completed the terms of their sentences. Another ballot measure in Michigan would include statewide election audits and automatic and same-day voter registration, and no-reason absentee voting. We need to pursue these reforms in other states.

It never ends. Voter suppression measures are being passed everywhere.  According to the Brennan Center, states with a history of racial discrimination, which were freed from civil rights oversight by a 2013 Supreme Court decision, have had significantly higher rates of voters purged from election rolls.  In Georgia, Brian Kemp has overseen the cancellation of 1.4 million registrations since 2012.

And at least 24 states have introduced or carried over at least 70 bills restricting voting access.  We’ll keep track of the latest threats to voting rights on our website.  Advocates need to fight back in these states.

What can we do right now? We need to protect the right to vote—especially on Election Day.  If you’re outraged by what opponents of voting rights are doing, join NOW as we mobilize grassroots support for election protection. NOW is working with the Election Protection campaign of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to recruit volunteers.  Click here to find out about the needs in your state.

The increasing amount of blatant attempts to suppress voting should make you angry—it does me—and then, I hope, it will make you want to take action.

The best way to do that is to work in your state with NOW and our good government coalition partners to expand voting rights, defend women’s rights, and turn out a historic vote in this year’s midterm elections.

Thank you for all you do to advance equality for all women and girls.

For Women’s Lives and Happiness,

Toni Van Pelt