RICHMOND, VA — Today marks the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which aimed to tear down barriers to voting and end racial discrimination at the ballot box. Much like the rest of the country, voting in Virginia has a history marred with violence right alongside its victories. Poll taxes, literacy tests, and state-sanctioned violence kept Black and other minority would-be voters from the booth.
Still today, the tide continues to drift against ballot access under the Trump Administration, as the President of the United States undermines the democratic process that is central both to the continued existence of this country and to the hope that it can improve.
After naming a campaign mega donor to be the postmaster general, the Trump Administration has slashed overtime funding for the post office and significantly delayed deliveries across the country. A successful election in the middle of a pandemic depends on a healthy postal system, and in states where ballots have to be delivered by election day, unexpected delays would be a disaster that would undermine faith in our elections.
"The Voting Rights Act was a major step forward in our nation’s long effort to guarantee fair access to the vote — an effort that Donald Trump and his Republican allies seek to reverse every single day. In the midst of a pandemic that is out of control due to the president’s disastrous leadership, it’s important to protect the right to vote with legitimate, secure methods like absentee by mail voting that can save Virginians’ lives,” said DPVA Voter Protection & Expansion Director, Alyssa Pooler. “Trump’s insistence of baselessly undermining public confidence in our elections is a real danger to democracy.”
In 2016, Trump continued to allege there was “serious voter fraud in Virginia” and other states even weeks after the election. Over a year later, Trump abruptly shut down his bogus voter fraud commission, which suffered from bipartisan opposition, when despite its “pre-ordained outcome,” it found no actual evidence of voter fraud.
Trump’s false claims that voters were bussed into New Hampshire and undocumented immigrants voted in California were fuel for the GOP to push for Voter ID laws, born out of the same methods as historical efforts to keep minorities from voting, and which impact the same communities.
Trump and his administration have made countless baseless claims about nonexistent voter fraud, with a special focus on vote-by-mail, each more outlandish than the last. In 2020, he tweets that the election should be moved, and that states trending blue, like Nevada, have no infrastructure to carry vote-by-mail, but states like Florida are fine to vote absentee.
The president has been explicit that he knows high voter turnout is bad for his reelection chances and has launched a “multimillion-dollar legal effort to block expanded ballot access.” Trump is saying out loud what his allies usually keep silent: the democratic ideals this nation was supposedly founded on do not matter if they endanger the power of the Republican minority.
For more information on how to vote absentee in Virginia, contact our Voter Protection department at https://vademocrats.org/vote/.