Why Voter Suppression Proves Your Vote Matters
With early voting coming up THIS month - starting July 13, we wanted to highlight the fact that early voting has been made inaccessible to some. Some wonder if this is because of an enormous turnout in the last election, which really benefitted the Democratic Party.
Each Future901 endorsed candidate won their respective races in the last election, and we are pushing for these victories to continue. The opportunity we have to move Shelby County and Tennessee forward is immense.
Yet this will not come without a fight.
We want to remind you to make sure you and everyone in your sphere of influence gets out and votes. In hopes of illuminating the need for votes, we want to highlight a couple Future901 candidates and why voting accessibility matters to them.
Danielle Schonbaum (TN House District 83)
Voter suppression is a real issue for our community. The State Legislature has already made it more difficult to vote by requiring a state or federal issue ID be presented in order to vote. Now, the Shelby County Election Commission is piling on by only opening early voting sites at three sites for the first four days of early voting. Two of those three sites are in the district in which I am running – TN House District 83. Some would argue that this should make me happy, but why should residents of this area of the County have access when there is one additional site in the rest of the County? We cannot pick and choose which voters can vote during the entire early voting period.
While this issue is being litigated, several groups are busy setting up rides to the polls and calling voters to encourage early voting. This work is critical, but we also need to look beyond this election cycle. We need to elect representatives that will work to make voting easier in Tennessee, not more difficult. Tennessee is among the states that require voter registration no later than 30 days prior to Election Day – the furthest out in the country. In an age of technology, why can’t we have same day registration or at least a few days before? Why can’t we explore the possibility of online voting – being used in other states and in other countries successfully. These are a couple of ways we could look to encourage voter participation in Tennessee. Our state currently sits at the bottom of voter participation ranks. If we truly want our councils, commissions and legislature to be representative of our diverse state, we must make sure that everyone can easily participate in the voting process.
From Racquel Collins (Shelby County Commission District 1):
I’ve always loved the story of Harry T. Burn. Harry was a Republican member of the 1919 Tennessee General Assembly, who went down in history as the deciding vote that enabled Tennessee to be the 36th and final state needed to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. Because he decided that his mother’s advice “is always safest,” women have had the right to vote since 1920. His decision wasn’t about Party…it was about doing the right thing for the people. Interestingly, African Americans were afforded the right to vote by the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 – well before women were! – but it wasn’t until Dr. King’s Bloody Sunday march in Selma and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s subsequent signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that finally enforced these guaranteed voting rights. Securing the right to vote for women and people of color has cost us in blood, sweat, tears, and human life. The brutality that some have endured just to have this right should serve as a constant reminder of why voting is important. It’s not just a check in a box…it’s the honoring of the people who made this right possible for women and people of color…who made this right possible for me.
For the first time in my district, we have a candidate who represents almost all of District 1 constituents, either through my military service, my educational and professional background, or the makeup of my family. And my passion for this community is unmatched. Amidst the recent controversy over the early voting locations for the August elections, I’ll be doing my part to make sure our voters get to the polls: knocking as many doors as I can, making as many phone calls as I can, giving out my own phone number so that those without transportation have a free ride to the polls, and coordinating with other campaigns and local groups who are also providing rides to the polls. Our vote is our voice…and it DOES matter!
Make sure you get out and vote – the Democratic Women of Shelby County are providing free transportation during early voting and election day. You can contact them at (901) 401-0402. It is our right to vote – it is required that employers give employees up to 3 hours of paid time off to vote if there is not at least 3 hours before or after their job shift to vote. The only requirement is you ask for time off at the latest the morning before.