Voter Suppression

Combating Voter Suppression

Although the US follows a democratic system, with voters given protection and equal rights in the electoral process, there are many intrinsic voter suppression practices going in the country, some are hidden and some are blatant.

For example, women did not have voting rights until 100 years ago, when Women's Suffrage Movement fought for women's rights to vote. African Americans did not have voting rights until 1965 when the Civil Rights Movement took place, and the Voting Rights Act finally passed in the US Congress. Chinese Americans are still suffering from the consequences of the "Chinese Exclusion Act", that was made to suppress one group of people in particularly.

CAVA recommend reading about the article of "Voter Suppression" from America's most well-known civil rights protection organization, American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU, and educate ourselves about how voter suppression is used to suppress the voices and votes especially of minority, immigrants, and vulnerable communities, including the Chinese Americans.

In case you run into voter suppression, intimation, obstruction, unfair treatments, etc, record it directly on your phone, take photos, videos, voice recording, and report to your local election offices, voter protection agencies, voter protection hotlines, or other civil rights organizations.

You can also directly post on social media and find groups that support this effort. Your legal rights to vote needs to be protected. Plan to vote earlier and vote in a safe way, is another way you can protect your vote and make sure your vote gets counted.

Common tactics and practices

Drawing and redrawing electoral districts to specifically suppress and cut off the votes and rights of certain groups of people, especially the colored people, the poor, and under-privileged.

The US Electoral College system, which is used to elect US President and Vice President, based on electoral votes, rather than popular votes, is actually a voter suppression machine that gives more influence to swing states, and suppress votes from other large states such as California, New York, Texas, etc.

-Lack of voter information and civic education

Many immigrants who come to the US are not given adequate education and access to the electoral process and basic civic education opportunity. Often such information is hidden or scattered, and not written in the language of the immigrant communities. The very reason why CAVA was set up and has developed this website, is in fact, an effort to bring such information together and help our voters understand the election better.

-Money and politics

American elections are expensive, time consuming, and labor intensive. Every year, billions of dollars are spent to run these election campaigns, which drain the energy of the candidates, the voters, and resources of the entire society. Without money, hardly any candidates can win in any election. The basic fact that American politics have become tied up with big money especially special interests is a major challenge and blockage to a true democratic system which gives equal protection and rights to common voters and ordinary citizens.

-Disfranchise Voters

In America, more than 30% of the eligible adults are not registered to vote, and more than 20% registered voters are not participating even in presidential elections. Therefore, the percentage of voting-age adults who participate in the elections is only about 50% (Pew Research Center article). US represents one of the lowest voter turnout ratios among all democratic countries. In certain state and local elections, this voting ratio can be as low as 10% or even 5%.

Many voters feel they are too busy with work, they don't have time to vote, they don't know what is happening, who are the candidates, who represent them. Many of them also feel indifference and disinterest to "dirty politics", "Politics is all bad", "Vote for less of an evil", or "My vote doesn't matter at all", etc, etc.

These are classic examples of Voter Suppression that makes people feel they no longer has anything to do with the democratic system and they want to stay away from elections. Disfranchising common voters from elections and favoring only certain interest groups to vote are what have been happening in the US.

-Scare Tactics

Scare tactics are commonly used to scare voters away, making them feel afraid to vote or their votes may face punitive consequences. This happens very common among immigrant communities, such as Chinese Americans, many of them come from countries with suppressive or authoritative governments.

A common FAQ by such immigrant voter is "Will the government know who I voted for?", or "Do they have record of me how I voted?" These scare tactics can be implicit or explicit, designed to strip the power of the voters and make them feel unwelcome, disqualified, unworthy or afraid to participate in the electoral process.

In the COVID time, avoiding public health recommendations, purposely making the polling places unsafe, delaying post-office mails, and scaring voters of mail fraud are ways of many scare tactics are used to discourage voters from participation.

-And many others...

We encourage every voter to exercise and protect our voter rights, rather than taking it for granted or are even not get involved. We must educate ourselves in the American electoral process, understand our basic civic duty as an American citizen, and participate in the electoral process. This is the best way to protect our voting rights.