Jolie Futterman, Grade 9, Staff Writer
Voter suppression has been a pressing issue in past United States elections. This year, however, voter suppression was taken to a new level. By preventing people from exercising their right to vote, President Donald Trump was challenging the foundations of our democracy.
The Republican Party focused its efforts toward hindering voting, while the Democratic Party attempted to make voting easier. From invalidating mail-in ballots to limiting early polling stations, voters around the country faced unfair challenges as they cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election.
With COVID-19 keeping people away from polling lines, much of the population cast their vote through mail-in-ballots. As a result, many people and politicians have started questioning whether certain voting methods should be considered valid. President Trump has shown his complete mistrust of mail-in-ballots, even though voting by mail has been done for years, and has yet to lead to the downfall of American democracy. “Universal mail-in voting is going to be catastrophic,” said the President. “It's going to make our country the laughing stock of the world.”
President Trump also remarked that states should not be allowed to count mail-in-ballots after election day. “Hopefully, the few states remaining that want to take a lot of time after November 3rd to count ballots, that won't be allowed by the various courts,” said President Trump. However, Trump has also actively limited USPS funding, resulting in slower service and a failure to get every mail-in-ballot by election day. If every state were to follow Trump’s suggestion, thousands of votes would not be counted and thousands of voices would be silenced. It is extremely unfair to suppress people’s right to vote simply because they cannot risk waiting on poll lines. Even when Vice President Joe Biden was projected to be the President-elect, Trump continued to tweet about “legal votes” refusing to recognize the people who voted by mail. President Trump is using his voice and his power to suppress the voice of the American people.
Additionally, early-voting reached record-highs, and the wait times on the polling line were hours long. New Yorker Amy Einhorn waited for four hours in the cold rain. Einhorn luckily has a job that lets her take this four-hour break. “If I had young children without childcare, I wouldn’t be able to wait in line. If I had a job where I couldn’t be out of the office, I wouldn’t be able to wait in line,” Einhorn said.
The voting lines overwhelmingly target poor people, who can not afford to spend four hours waiting in line while their children stay home alone or their job remains unattended. Not surprisingly, of those making under 30k a year, 53 percent voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, while 41 percent voted for Trump. The voices of these people are being suppressed by long lines taking them away from their jobs or children, making them more likely to skip in-person voting.
In Manhattan, with a population of 1.7 million people, there are 32 early-voting stations. Staten Island, with a population of about 475 thousand people has 16 voting stations. Those ratios do not match up; there should be more stations in Manhattan corresponding to the number of people living there. Staten Island is 75.7 percent white, while Manhattan is 64.6 percent white. The disproportionate number of polling stations in these boroughs favors the white majority and favors the Republican majority of Staten Island while the dominantly Democratic Manhattan is left with long lines that turn some voters away.
Voters are even getting turned away based on their voting attire. Many states have made it so one can not vote at a polling station while wearing attire that is endorsing a particular candidate. In Michigan, displaying support for a candidate within 100 feet of a polling station can be charged with a misdemeanor. Poll workers in some states can even send someone away for wearing a #MeToo pin if there is a question regarding sexual assault on the ballot.
The Department of Education decided to continue remote instruction on election day. Some seniors in high school are of voting age, and this instruction makes it harder for them to vote on election day.
In California, The California Republic party openly admitted to placing false ballot-dropping boxes. This blatantly misled voters.
The 2020 election was one of anxiety, chaos, and high stakes. The United States operates as a democracy in which everyone, in theory, has a voice. And yet, many of those voices were suppressed in this election. This election strayed from the democratic values that are supposed to uphold the United States and cannot be seen as a portrayal of the country’s voice. The President, politicians, and laws have made it harder for specific groups of people to vote, leaving a large portion of America silent.