Voting Suppression Must be National Priority

As we go to press Tuesday, we do not yet know who won the elections. But we do know that the electorate lost big when it came to how elections were handled right here in Hinds County and beyond.

We spent much of the last few days reporting on elections problems—both purposeful and negligent as the entire country watched Republican elected officials use their offices around the nation to try to limit the number of non-white voters. Florida was a prime example with one election official refusing to extend early voting except in one largely white, Republican precinct. Nothing could be more obvious. Then there was the Arizona Republican candidate who robocalled bad poll information to Democrats. And so many more.

Here in the metro, we spent time correcting numerous false emails and posts put out to give false information to votes. As we write this, we are chasing reports of poll places in Rankin County illegally dividing people into Democratic and Republican lines (a long-time cheating practice in our state). We hear of police officers parked outside a Flowood polling place with lights flashing--another long-time voter suppression tactic.

Then, of course, the Republicans—including Gov. Phil Bryant—are all tweeting that they are showing their voter IDs anyway at the polls even though they can't legally require it yet. It is shameful on a day with apparently record turnout for our state officials to engage in protest activity inside the polls that can confuse and hold up voting. But voter ID is designed to limit voting; we pray that people fully prove today that it won't work as a voter-suppression tool, as well as being expensive and without evidence that it'll actually help a thing.

Then, of course, is the incompetence that ends up being a voter-suppression tool even if accidental. One of our editors came to work today reporting that the poll manager at her Presidential Hills precinct had "forgotten the key" and left voters lined up outside waiting while they scrambled to locate it. And R.L. Nave reported the day before Election Day that his own voter-registration form, filed through the NAACP, either had not been delivered to the Hinds County Circuit Clerk's office, or had not been entered. Considering that the NAACP registered 10,000 new Hinds County voters, this was a real concern that we're still trying to sort out.

The problem is that we will get busy and forget about this until the next big election if we're not careful—or the next small one when the cheating goes unnoticed. This will not do. It does not benefit the people of the United States to have our voting rights curtailed in any way, whether purposefully or not. We must, as a nation, start taking this problem much more seriously from the local to the federal level.

If not, we give up our power before we ever get to the polls. Let's talk about it, America, and demand action from our leaders. Oh, and kick any bum out that tries to limit our voting rights or use their government position to promote a political strategy (looking at you, secretary of state). They do not deserve to be public servants.

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