In order to win the most powerful seat in America, the 2016 presidential hopefuls need one crucial thing: Your vote. Some say candidates need the single women's vote (who voted in droves in the 2012 election), others believe the Latino vote will determine the winner, while others think that first-time voters will decide who will be America's new president. Either way, the issue lots of people will face is whether or not they'll even be able to vote.
This election year will see the most restrictive voting laws in decades. A new study showed that in the past, not a single state required photo identification when voting. This year, however, 16 states require photo ID and "will have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election," reports the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Those states are Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
"This number increased from 15 to 16 on January 29, 2016 when Georgia’s law went into effect requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship when signing up using the federal registration form. The requirement had previously been on hold," the Brennan Center reports. "This is part of a broader movement to curtail voting rights, which began after the 2010 election, when state lawmakers nationwide started introducing hundreds of harsh measures making it harder to vote."
Is this new radicalization even constitutional? The NAACP and the Department of Justice conclude that it is not and are suing the state of North Carolina. The new laws there, which also includes showing photo ID, call for "reduced early voting; ended same-day voter registration; banning the practice of casting ballots out of precinct; and ending pre-registration for teens." The Atlantic reports that "proponents said the laws were essential to guarantee the integrity of the state’s elections."
“The right to vote is supposed to be constitutional, not confusing,” said the Reverend William Barber, who is president of the state NAACP, The Atlantic reports. “North Carolina’s restrictive photo-ID law remains an immoral and unconstitutional burden on voters that creates two unequal tiers of voters. We are prepared to challenge this modern form of Jim Crow in the courts even as we continue our grassroots work.”
On Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver took issue with North Carolina's new voting laws:
"While American history is littered with vote buying, vote tampering, and ballot-box stuffing, voter ID doesn't prevent those crimes. The only crime it prevents is voter impersonation — one person showing up to the polls pretending to be someone they're not. Which is a pretty stupid crime, because you have to stand in line at a polling place and risk five years in prison and a $10,000 fine all to cast one probably not-consequential extra vote. The truth here is voter impersonation fraud is incredibly rare."
A study conducted by the Department of Political Science at UC San Diego indicated that these new laws mainly succeed in suppressing the minority population. "We find that strict voter identification laws do, in fact, substantially alter the makeup of who votes and ultimately do skew democracy in favor of whites and those on the political right," authors of the study concluded. "These laws significantly impact the representativeness of the vote and the fairness of democracy.”
If the new voting laws are attempting to suppress minority voters, as the study indicates, it's incredibly dangerous considering the 2016 electorate will be the most diverse in U.S. history. The numbers below shows that Latinos are the largest minority voters.
At a Town Hall mixer hosted by Latino Rebels, a panel that included journalists and actors such as Julio Ricardo Varela (NPR, Latino Rebels), Sandra Lilley (NBC Latino), Laura Gómez (Orange Is the New Black), Luis A. Miranda, Jr. (The MirRam Group and Hispanic Federation), and J.W. Cortés (Gotham and former U.S. Marine combat veteran) touched upon two major things: the crucial Latino vote, and the differences between the Republican and the Democratic party.
According to Pew, there's a record 27.3 million new Latino citizens that are eligible to vote in the 2016 presidential elections. Univision is attempting to make sure these voters get to the polls with a new campaign to get them to register. Their goal aims at getting 3 million new registered Latino voters for the 2016 elections. The Washington Post points out that most of these new Latino voters that Univision intends to register will likely vote Democrat, even though the drive is a bipartisan initiative.
Gómez said that Latinos should vote Democrat as it's the party that will benefit them the most. "The Democrat message is more honest." In regards to the strict new voting laws, she said, "I want to believe this is really not happening."
In the video below she discusses the Democratic party and who she's voting for this year.
Like Gómez, millions of Latinos and young voters are tuned in to and will hopefully mobilize to vote in this election. Partly because the political rhetoric has been so anti-Latino. Whether they will actually be allowed to vote once they get to the booths will be another story. Make sure to register and get all your identification in order in time for the big day in November. We will have to wait until Election Day to see who's vote counts.