Barriers to Voting

Why are you needed?

2021 has brought hundreds of pieces of new legislation to create barriers to voting in the majority of states (see the Brennan Center for details). Some legislation is intended to prevent “voter fraud” (casting illegitimate ballots), while others purport to prevent “election fraud” (changing the counting of ballots).

NVC offers two recent presentations to learn about barriers to voting and gerrymandering. (Right-to-vote supporters are welcome to download the latest presentations for non-commercial use.)

  1. Crushing American Democracy, a short explanation of forces threatening the freedom to vote.
  2. Are Voting Rights Guaranteed? what the Constitution says about voting – in the past and in 2022.

Safe and accessible voting is discouraged in many ways:

  • Fewer polling places create longer lines of voters waiting to vote and longer distances to travel to vote.
  • Inconvenient or limited hours and locations for registration or early voting that hinder hourly workers and people without cars.
  • Last-minute changes that make polls hard to find or make voters go to unsafe locations.
  • Excessive voter ID requirements.  For people who don’t have a driver license, or were born at home and never had a birth certificate, it can be arduous to obtain an approved license.
  • Deliberate barriers to registering voters:  In many states, restrictive laws (for instance, requiring the presentation of a birth certificate) make it virtually impossible to conduct voter registration drives.
  • De-registering “inactive” voters without reasonable notification, such as sending postcards designed to look like junk mail with instructions in tiny type instructing voters to reply if they want to remain registered.
  • Eliminating vote-by-mail options that allowed busy and hourly workers plus home-bound people to vote more easily.
  • Reducing the number of vote-by-mail drop boxes. 
  • Felony Disenfranchisement: Several million ex-felons nationwide are prevented from voting or face huge obstacles to registering to vote.
  • Intimidation  by partisan “poll watchers.”
  • Mishandling votes (inaccurate machines, machines lacking an un-hackable paper trail, losing votes, etc.).
  • Gerrymandering (redrawing districts to make selected voters irrelevant).