There were 25 debates during the presidential primaries and general election and not a single question about the attack on voting rights, even though this was the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. Fourteen states had new voting restrictions in place for the first time in 2016—including crucial swing states like Wisconsin and Virginia—yet we heard nary a peep about it on Election Day except from outlets like The Nation. This was the biggest under-covered scandal of the 2016 campaign.
Most undercovered story of 2016: today is 1st presidential election in 50 years without full protections of Voting Rights Act pic.twitter.com/ARVvBRnVzb
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) November 8, 2016
We’ll likely never know how many people were kept from the polls by restrictions like voter-ID laws, cuts to early voting, and barriers to voter registration. But at the very least this should have been a question that many more people were looking into. For example, 27,000 votes currently separate Trump and Clinton in Wisconsin, where 300,000 registered voters, according to a federal court, lacked strict forms of voter ID. Voter turnout in Wisconsin was at its lowest levels in 20 years and decreased 13 percent in Milwaukee, where 70 percent of the state’s African-American population lives, according to Daniel Nichanian of the University of Chicago.
I documented stories of voters in Wisconsin—including a 99-year-old man—who made two trips to the polls and one to the DMV on Election Day just to be able to vote, while others decided not to vote at all because they were denied IDs. When Margie Mueller, an 85-year-old woman from Plymouth, Wisconsin, wasn’t allowed to vote with her expired driver’s license, her husband, Alvin, decided not to vote either. They were both Democrats. “The damn Republicans,” he said, “don’t want Latinos and old people to vote.”
Andrew Voegele, a schoolteacher, recently moved from Minnesota to Wisconsin and was forced to cast a provisional ballot yesterday that will not be counted unless he surrenders his Minnesota license and spends $34 for a Wisconsin driver’s license by Friday. The ACLU filed a court order last night to have his vote count. Over 200 people in Wisconsin petitioned the DMV on Election Day to get a voter ID.