Voter suppression backlash

It is just three weeks before the election on Tuesday, November 3. It is by now pretty obvious that Trump and the Republican Party see their future electoral chances depend not on expanding their base of support beyond that of white and older and more well-to-do people from rural areas but instead on suppressing the vote from every other group. So we see all manner of hurdles thrown up to discourage voter registration and voting that seek to make it disproportionately harder to vote for people who live in areas whom they do not see as likely supporters.

But there is a danger in pushing this strategy as much as they have. History is replete with instances where when people are pushed just a little too far, you cross a tipping point when they stop being discouraged and instead become more determined. The idea that people will get discouraged by these obstacles and not vote is a risky strategy. When it becomes as obvious as it has become, you risk enraging people and creating a backlash where people become defiant and decide that they will go through hell and high water in order to hit back at those who would seek to deny them their rights. We saw this with the determination of people in the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s.

Take for example what is happening right now in Georgia, a state where the Republican governor has led voter-suppression efforts. It turns out that people are waiting in line for up to ten hours in order to vote early on the first day in which early voting was allowed, a full three weeks before the actual election day.

Voters in Georgia faced hours-long lines on Monday as people flocked to the polls for the first day of early voting in the state, which has developed a national reputation in recent years for voting issues.

Eager voters endured waits of six hours or more in Cobb County, which was once solidly Republican but has voted for Democrats in recent elections, and joined lines that wrapped around buildings in solidly Democratic DeKalb County. They also turned out in big numbers in north Georgia’s Floyd County, where support for Donald Trump is strong.

Adrienne Crowley, who waited more than an hour to vote, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution there wasn’t anything that would make her get out of the line to vote. “I would have voted all day if I had to.”

Voters began lining up outside polling stations in the predawn hours, some using their cellphone flashlights to help other voters fill out pre-registration forms, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Steve Davidson, who is Black, said the late US congressman John Lewis and others had fought too long and hard to secure his place at the polls for him to get tired and leave.

“They’ve been fighting for decades. If I’ve got to wait six or seven hours, that’s my duty to do that. I’ll do it happily,” Davidson said.

People can only be pushed so far before they revolt and strike back. And they are striking back by voting.


  1. xohjoh2n says

    You guys are just nuts. Our local polling centres cover about a 5-10 minute walking area (at least in urban areas, no idea about rural). I don’t *need* any documentation to vote (although we all get mailed a card which makes it a little faster) and the results are generally mostly all tallied within 12 hours of close. The results are (objectively) trustworthy and generally (subjectively) trusted.

    Of course our Tories have introduced into the political discussion the idea of strong voter ID rules, pretty much I believe because they’ve seen you guys get away with it and are quite keen on having a similar outcome for themselves. Nothing concrete as yet, and I hope not ever.

  2. John Morales says

    Impressive. I don’t know that I could go 10 hours while awake without having to urinate.

  3. billseymour says

    My ballot is in the mail.

    I mailed it yesterday, which was a federal holiday, so my ballot would have been collected from the blue mailbox outside my post office earlier today; then with any luck, it’ll make it to a post office in the northern part of St. Louis County tomorrow morning where it will be picked up by county election officials. I’ll start logging in to the ballot tracking Web site tomorrow evening to see how it’s doing.

    I think I remember hearing that, in Missouri, signatures can be validated on receipt, and the ballots can be opened and counted as early as five days prior to election day. If that’t right, then my votes will probably be included among the in-person votes on election day. We’ll see…

    John Morales @3: this old man certainly wouldn’t be able to. (Sorry if that’s more than you wanted to know.)

  4. johnson catman says

    billseymour @4: You could always get one of those portable, wearable, urine collection devices. Sorry if THAT is more than you wanted to know.

  5. jrkrideau says

    @ 6 sonofrojblake
    I use a pencil too but have you ever seen a US ballot. It looks to me as if people in the US vote for everything from president to dog-catcher on the same ballot.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    jrkrideau @ # 7: … people in the US vote for everything from president to dog-catcher on the same ballot.

    Not kidding: On the “down” part of my ballot this year I will face a question about whether to remove a requirement that local candidates file both a paper copy and a digital copy of their campaign money. My neighbors inside the city limits also get to vote on whether to change the “Clerk of the Commission” job title to “City Clerk”. (Examples for illustration: we both have multiple tidying-up issues of that sort to decide.)

    The rule that anything approved by the voters can only get changed by the voters seems sound in principle, but in practice illustrates the ongoing problems with the details of direct democracy.

  7. Tadas says

    With a record number of hurricanes that made landfall this year, and it being 2020, and Florida being Florida, I predict a hurricane passing through Florida on Election Day.

    On another note, are pollsters allowed to ask if people have voted early and for whom? I always see the breakdown that includes categories like adult, registered voter, likely voter, etc in the poll analysis. If they can determine actual vote, with the high number of early voters, might those aggregate sites like provide even more accurate predictions? 2020 is shaping up to be a data scientist’s dream.

  8. DrVanNostrand says

    @10 Tadas
    That question has been discussed on 538. Pollsters can ask any questions they want. If I recall correctly, some pollsters do ask about early voting, in which case they’re automatically put in the ‘likely voter’ category, but none of them, or nearly none of them, have a specially weighted category for early voters beyond that.

  9. khms says

    Here’s a random example of what you’d see in a German Federal Election.

    Here’s a bit more, including the card we’re sent which doubles as a postal voting request (fill it out, mail it back, get mail with the ballot, fill that out and mail it back) -- it helps if you read German

  10. billseymour says

    jrkrideau @7:

    … people in the US vote for everything from president to dog-catcher on the same ballot.

    Almost, although dog catcher is likely appointed, not elected. 😎

    It depends on where you live. There were 27 votes to cast on my ballot:

    U.S. President and Vice President
    Missouri Governor
    Missouri Lieutenant Governor
    Missouri Secretary of State
    Missouri Treasurer
    Missouri Attorney General
    U.S. Representative District 2
    State Senate District 1
    State House of Representatives District 92
    St Louis County Executive
    St Louis County Councilperson District 6
    14 yes/no:  retain a particular judge?
    2 yes/no:  ammend the state constitution?

    I abstained on all the judge retention questions since I had no clue what the right choice was.

  11. Mobius says

    I am in Oklahoma. I put in my absentee ballot request quite some time ago. Since the start of October it shows my ballot has been sent, but it has yet to be delivered. [sigh] If it does not show before the 28th, I plan on early voting in person on the 30th (early voting starts the 29th, and I want to avoid the first day just in case of long lines).

    Sadly, I suspect my vote won’t count for much. Oklahoma is so deep red. Back when I was a little kid it was very Democrat. But that ended with the civil rights movement and the Dixiecrats (Southern Democrats) switching to the Republican party.

  12. Numenaster, whose eyes are up here says

    My Oregon ballot arrived yesterday! I voted for some 20 federal, state and local positions and at least 4 ballot measures. After work I’ll walk it to the blue mailbox down the hill. Since my entire state votes entirely by mail and has done so successfully for decades, I have high confidence in it being received promptly and recorded properly. But I will still use the Secretary of State’s web tool to verify that.

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