What Is The Legal Definition Of “Voter Suppression?”

All the talk about mail-in voter fraud from Republicans and voter suppression might have you wondering what those terms mean. Well, fraud is simple enough. It encompassess any activity that could fluff up the vote count. For example, a dead person voting or a living person casting two ballots are both forms of voter fraud. Others have suggested that mail-in votes are more susceptible to being manipulated for or against one candidate or another, although there is no proof that supports this belief, nor is there proof of widespread voter fraud.

There is, however, a lot of evidence of voter suppression. What is the legal definition of voter suppression? It’s a little bit more complicated, because it can include any number of tactics. These include any legal or illegal attempt to prevent voters from making it to the polls. 

How is this possible? It’s not even that difficult. Republican legislatures have been implementing suppressive tactics for years. For example, a Republican-dominated Supreme Court ruled that one state’s mail-in votes that arrive after Election Day are invalid — meaning all of those eligible voters who cast their votes could have them tossed away simply because Donald Trump’s administration did it’s best to slow down the postal service during the weeks prior to the election. The president was open about this attempt at manipulating the vote in his favor.

In another state, Republican legislators passed a law allowing anyone with a firearm license to vote — but not someone with a student ID. The purpose of this kind of distinction between forms of identification is obvious: gun owners are much more likely to be Republican, while college-educated youths are much more likely to vote Democrat. It’s an easy — and legal — way to reduce your opponent’s ability to vote. 

And then there’s the Trump Administration’s aspiration to create an “army” off poll watchers to ward off any troublesome activity. There was a law preventing this for the past four decades, but it recently expired. The goal of sending out poll watchers is also transparent: it’s meant to intimidate minority voters, who seem at odds with radical conservative groups.