So far this year, 17 states have enacted 28 new laws that restrict access to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. In addition, the center warns more voter suppression laws are likely on the way, as at least 61 bills limiting voting access are moving through 18 state legislatures.
To me, it seems as if Republicans are capitalizing off former President Donald Trump's 2020 election claims to make it more difficult for citizens to vote. Ohio's GOP supermajority may be next in line.
As we return to campus life, Ohio House Republicans introduced House Bill 387, a proposal that goes even further than the already strict voting restrictions that House Bill 294 presented. The new measure - introduced by Rep. Bill Dean (R-OH) and backed by several other state Republicans - would place an outright ban on ballot drop boxes, extremely limit mail-in voting, narrow the list of accepted forms of identification, keep the Ohio Secretary of State from sending voters absentee ballots, and require voting machines to be made and developed in the United States, among other things. This is all in the name of "eliminating fraud."
What these Republicans fail to mention is how rare voter fraud is, especially in the 2020 election that many in the GOP continue to undermine.
"The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history," read a joint statement issued by Trump's own Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
In Ohio, specifically, there were 13 possible cases of voter fraud out of nearly six million Ohioans who cast votes in the November election, according to Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. When you do the math, that's 0.0002%. A number so minuscule that Jen Miller, the executive director of the Ohio League of Women Voters, said, "There's not going to be any election, even at the super-local level, where this would have changed those results."
"The bottom line is Ohioans should know that voter fraud is exceedingly rare," said LaRose.
These laws clearly aren't about eliminating fraud, because even Republican election officials admit how rare fraud is. In my opinion, what these laws are really about is making it harder for minority groups, particularly Black people, to have a voice in the most sacred process of democracy.
"In fairness to the Republicans, voter suppression has a long history in the United States that is not located in one party, but it's located in one ideology, and that ideology is white supremacy," Lincoln Mitchell, an international elections observer, told the Guardian, adding: "It is only in the last [fortyish] years that it has become a Republican issue."
This leads to the grotesque underrepresentation that minorities have in the government today. But, it doesn't have to be this way. Contact your state senator and representative and urge them not to support House Bill 387 or 294. Our democracy hangs in the balance.