Ensuring Every Vote Counts

Civil rights activists marched, organized and died to secure the right for all Americans to vote. “[W]ithout effective safeguards,” wrote Project 21 member Derrick Hollie, “the civil rights movement’s goal of making everybody’s vote count may never be achieved.”

In a commentary published by the Daily Signal, Derrick described how the modern threat to voting rights evolved from an act of outright discrimination to a stealthy strategy for political advantage. But the end result has almost always been black disenfranchisement – denying blacks the ability to fully participate in the creation and maintenance of the policies that directly affect them.

Derrick explained:

White authorities in the Jim Crow South used tactics ranging from poll taxes to ballot destruction to lynching to keep blacks from participating in the political process. Efforts to limit and hijack votes still exist, but they are much more subtle.

When a vote is cast in someone else’s name—dead or alive—the votes of others are diminished. When an illegal immigrant or a restricted felon votes, the votes of others are similarly compromised.

Voter fraud may lack the intimidation and violence employed in the past, but it still minimizes the ability of all people to participate in the process and determine how they are to be governed.

The best way to protect the integrity of the voting process, Derrick explained, is to institute safeguards and processes that can help ensure fraudsters aren’t able to hijack peoples’ votes:

Having won the right to vote with the 15th Amendment, and having it secured by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other legislation, blacks need to have their votes count. Protections such as ID requirements and clean voter rolls are key to this assurance.

Derrick highlighted Project 21’s “Blueprint for a Better Deal for Black America” and its recommendations to improve ballot integrity. The Blueprint makes six specific suggestions for helping to make sure black Americans’ votes count:

  • Require proof of citizenship to register to vote.
  • Require proof of identity to cast ballots.
  • Require states to purge election rolls on a regular basis to remove people who are deceased or have moved to other jurisdictions.
  • Require states to purge election rolls of registered voters who have not cast ballots in six years.
  • Prohibit the practice of mailing ballots to those who have not requested them.
  • Prosecute organizations or individuals systematically targeting black communities for voter fraud.

And Derrick makes a strong case for ballot protection by also providing examples of both how votes have been compromised in the past and how the critics’ claims of problems in obtaining identification are not well-founded.

To read all of Derrick’s commentary – “Voter Fraud Undermines the Votes of Black Americans” – click here.

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