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Tamika Mallory: "This is what voter suppression looks like," and here's how you can stop it

Social justice activist Tamika Mallory writes about voter disenfranchisement, how to spot abuses of power, and the need for grassroots change, exclusively for REVOLT TV.

Tamika Mallory // Instagram

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

—by Tamika Mallory

Last week, a bus in Georgia carrying a group of senior citizens to go vote was blocked from ever leaving the senior residence home in which they lived. What world are we living in when folks our own grandparents' age are such a threat that their vote must be stopped at all costs? Too many of us say, "If I lived in the time of Dr. King, I would've taken a stand." We are living during this time right now, so what are we going to do?

Hundreds of thousands of voters have been removed from the rolls in Georgia; 107,000 were removed simply because they had not voted in the past three years—essentially disenfranchising anyone who didn't vote in the 2016 presidential election. Another 53,000 voters have been frozen out because their name does not exactly match Social Security Administration rolls, making clerical errors a weapon to keep us away from the ballot box.

So who is most affected when voter rolls are purged? African Americans, Muslims, immigrants, and anyone whose name is different from the standard set by white supremacy. This is what voter suppression looks like.

The person in charge of enforcing these laws, Georgia's Secretary of State Brian Kemp, is running for Governor as a Republican. Conflict of interest much?

This is how an election gets stolen. It's happening across the nation because it works. Those in power want to control the resources, and it's up to us to stop that from happening.

If your vote didn't matter, why would they be working so hard to take it away? Folks are being disenfranchised in states across America. "Use it or lose it" voter laws, typicaclly enacted by GOP governments, are being enforced by at least nine states. In Alabama, a single unpaid parking ticket could prevent you from voting, effectively creating a new poll tax. And Michigan has had unelected 'emergency' managers for six years now, taking power away from residents in primarily Black districts. Regardless of where we live, we all need to be aware of the patterns emerging all over the country.

The fact that people died for our right to vote has been said so much that it's started to lose its meaning. But people are dying right now due to police brutality, environmental injustice, low wages, and lack of health care. Whether you like it or not, the people who run for office hold a lot of power over the issues that affect our daily lives.

I know that we haven't always had candidates we can trust, but right now, people are running for office who want to change that. Women, people of color, grassroots organizers, and queer folks are on the ballots, and they need our support to win. In general, when voter turnout is higher, Democrats win elections. If just 84% of Democrats who voted in the 2016 presidential election show up for the 2018 midterm elections, the Democrats will regain control of the House of Representatives, and that's not to mention all the Governors, State Representatives and local offices.

Right now, we've got all the ingredients we need for a grassroots change. Voting may not be the end-all be-all of social change, but the work that dedicated activists have been putting in has created a moment that we need to take advantage of, to usher in a new crop of grassroots leaders who truly reflect our different communities.

If you live in Georgia or have family and friends there, now is not the time for political cynicism or sitting it out, because Stacey Abrams is ready to address the issues that matter—equal rights, affordable housing, criminal justice reform, and more—but she needs your vote to do it. And it's not just Georgia. It's Florida, where Andrew Gillum is pushing for a $15 minimum wage. It's Maryland, where Ben Jealous is fighting for police reform. These are places where we have a real shot.

You can be part of the change by paying attention, calling your sisters, donating to grassroots candidates and showing up at the polls to vote for the candidates who are ready and willing to fight for our issues. This is our moment, and we owe it to ourselves and our communities to act.

For another two weeks, I'll be writing to you about several important states and races that we need to focus on winning in November. You can ask me any question you want by going on REVOLT TV's IG story and submitting a question.

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