When asked by Pew “which freedoms they consider essential” 92% of respondents said freedom of speech and 91 identified the right to vote. These rights are followed by the right to privacy (87%), freedom of religion (85%) and gun rights (48%)
Virtually everyone, regardless of party preference, sees voting as essential to their personal sense of freedom, with Democrats only marginally higher at 96% compared to 91% of Republicans.
It’s also worth noting that while Americans cherish their right to vote, there is minimal support at 20% for mandatory voting.
The poll tells us Republicans are going against the will of the people with their efforts to suppress the vote. Overall, 59% of respondents favor doing “everything possible” to make voting easier However, there is a substantial partisan divide on this question. Because voting is equated with a personal sense of freedom, it also means there is a partisan divide on whether another person’s sense of freedom should be respected.
An overwhelming majority of Democrats (84%) believe everything possible should be done to make voting easier, compared to a minority (39%) of Republicans and the 65% who believe one should “prove” they really want to vote by registering in advance. At 57%, most Independent favor making voting easier over making people “prove” they “really” want to vote (41%)
In direct contradiction to the will of the people, Republicans at the state level continue to pass laws to make voting harder, if not impossible ever since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.
A while back, Trump established a commission to review voting procedures and appointed Kris Kobach to head that commission. Republican controlled state legislatures continued to crank out new vote suppression laws and draw rigged electoral maps.
The partisan and racial divides on ease of access to the vote can perhaps be explained by whose voting rights are threatened and who is doing the threatening. According to the Poll Blacks (79%) are more likely than either whites (54%) or Hispanics to say voting should be (64%) made as easy as possible for citizens.
Part of white privilege is the relative certainty that your elected official won’t be obsessing to find ways to either disenfranchise you ore weaken the strength of your vote. As courts concluded and studies show, Republicans design their vote suppression laws in a manner that disproportionately has an adverse effect on African-Americans’ voting rights.
Earlier this year, the Washington Post pointed to the upsurge in vote suppression laws by Republicans under the pretense of maintaining election integrity, while the result is disenfranchising minorities.
“Scholars have been able to show that racial and ethnic minorities have less access to photo IDs, and extensive analysis reveals almost no evidence of voter fraud of the type ostensibly prevented by these laws.”
The voting experience is radically different based on race. That’s a reality in today’s American. This brings us to a difficult admission. There is a broad consensus that sees voting as essential to one’s personal sense of freedom. It stands to reason therefore, that when Republicans attack voting rights, they attack the personal sense of freedom of those they target. It’s little wonder that the Republican Party’s tent is small and white.
Image: Pew Research
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.