“Any great change must expect opposition because it shakes the very foundation of privilege.” – Lucretia Mott, suffragette and abolitionist
As Wisconsinites head to the ballot box April 6th and perhaps tire of constant political rancor, we can take note of Lucretia Mott’s wisdom. If she were alive today, she could easily be talking about how many states are currently considering changing laws that limit access to the ballot box.
There is no reason to be surprised by the rise of voter suppression laws. With recent increases in voter participation and resulting shifts in traditional power maps, the role of the vote in ushering in pivotal change is more clear now than in generations. And yet, Mott’s contemporary and friend, Frederick Douglas, had a lesson for us; he warned, “power concedes nothing without a demand.”
Currently, the State of Georgia’s new voter law is reminding us of Douglas’ lesson. We can skip reading about any media outlets’ characterization of this law; the legislation speaks for itself. Rather than bicker about a particular provision’s intent (although limitations on access to water while waiting to vote should appall us all), the relevant questions, regardless of political beliefs, focus on impact: under this new law is it now harder for citizens to exercise their most fundamental right – the right to vote – and if it is, harder for whom? You can read the law here: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/20521102-house-sub-to-sb-202.
Georgia is not an outlier. Many States, including Wisconsin – have elected officials who seek to make it more difficult to vote. If election integrity were the genuine goal, legislation would focus on keeping election commissions free of party control, investing in modern voting equipment, and requiring basic cybersecurity standards for the entire process – from registration to audits of the vote.
We’ve just wrapped up Women’s History Month but it is worth remembering that when women vote – especially as led by women of color – we have an essential opportunity to move our imperfect union forward. And every election matters. Every one.
If you need information about how to vote in your Wisconsin community on April 6th (and beyond) visit: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/
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