“Check your voting status online”. Too bad if you don’t have internet access. You might just lose your right to vote. Meet Jim Crow online voter suppression.
“Republicans in Ohio target voter suppression against the poor who have been evicted. Make giving hand sanitizer a crime. Accept concealed carry permits as form of ID but reject Student IDs”.
Mobilize The Vote North East Ohio fights Republican voter suppression bills. Its volunteers take portable WiFi hotspots with them into poor communities so residents can check their voting status online.
“One provision the bill is the online absentee ballot request system and automated voter registration program via the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.” – The Grio
This Republican voter suppression tactic intentionally targets the poor and seniors without access to the internet. Applying for an absentee ballot online, is impossible if you cannot get online. You’re denied your right to vote for leaders who can help improve your situation and provide internet access.
This is a Catch-22 – a situation where the solution is impossible due to contradictory regulations. “You can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience unless you have a job.” – Free Dictionary
This Indivisible/SwingLeft grassroots volunteer group is in the lowest voter turnout yet highly democratic areas of Ohio. This area is one of the poorest and most disenfranchised neighborhoods. Mobilize the Vote NEO connects with voters on a personal level one door or phone call at a time. It connects with disenfranchised & disengaged voters to build trust, develop relationships, empower voters, focus on issues that matter and identify potential volunteers.
Ohio provides voting information and resources online, but that is beyond the reach of many low income residents in the state such as:
Check your voter registration
Register to vote or update your voter registration status
Residents are often unsure of their voting status of if they have been purged from the voting rolls. Mobilize the Vote NEO volunteers needed a way to help them check this online while meeting with them. Volunteer teams take a mobile hotspot with them which lets up to a dozen volunteers simultaneously connect to the internet. Volunteers can now help more residents save time, cost and effort needed to comply with some of the new regulations that it make harder for the poor to vote.
Ohio HB-294 Republicans Voter Suppression Bill
HB-294 bill would cut early voting hours, require two forms of voter ID and limit the existing ability of the Ohio secretary of state to prepay postage on election mail. Like similar bills across the country, HB 294 would disproportionately affect Black and brown voters, students, low-income residents, disabled people, active-duty military and seniors. The bill would:
Cancel early voting the Monday before Election Day
Shorten absentee ballot request deadline
Prohibit pre-paid postage
Toss absentee ballots not sealed in two envelopesCanceling early voting before Election Day
Limit drop boxes – The Ohio House bill would limit the number of drop boxes to just one location per county, and that location can have up to three drop boxes. It would also allow drop boxes to be used only in the 10 days leading up to Election Day, a huge decrease from last year when Ohio voters had 30 days to return their ballot via drop box. Those boxes would also only be allowed outside of the county Board of Elections offices, hindering voters who don’t live near the offices and don’t have easy access to transportation. Such voters would have to find other ways to return their ballots. – Ohio Voter Rights & HuffPo
Ohio voter purges
“Checking voter status online is critical because of purges and human error. We check the voter registration database when we knock doors to determine if voters have been removed”, said Sue Dean Dyke, founder of Mobilize The Vote NEO. “Millions of voters have been removed since purging began about 5 years ago”.
10,000 eligible voters were removed after the 2020 election. – Guardian
40,000 people were removed “by accident” in 2019 including the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. Many are removed for not having voted in the last presidential election. – USA Today
Republicans disenfranchise the poor hurt by COVID
“Mobilize the Vote NEO targets groups of voters. They are forced to move often. One complex we go to had over 100 eviction cases this week as a result of financial insecurities created by COVID. The last thing you are thinking about is changing your voter registration on a paper form that you don’t know where to find. Even as a registered Ohio voter – your vote most likely will not count unless you have properly changed your address and it has been properly updated within 30 days of an election.”
Shooters welcome. Students not.
“Stringent ID requirements (and proposed new ones) that disproportionately affect the poor. Fishing license and concealed carry are valid to vote but school ID or other type of ID are not,” explains Sue Dean Dyke
Providing hand sanitizer is a crime
“It is now a criminal offense (as of July1, 2021) in Ohio for elections officials to collaborate with independent groups like the League of Women Voters or sports teams to help voters navigate the voting process or provide resources such as sanitizer, handouts, funds for accessibility improvements etc.”
Internet access fights voter suppression
Sue Dean Dyke explains:
– “We check registration online at the door to check to see the last time they voted and how they voted
– Being able to see the last time someone voted helps inform the decision of whether to re-register the person (we re-register anyone whose last election voting was 2016 or before)
you need internet to request an absentee ballot APPLICATION (paper form you have to fill out properly and send back through the mail to the Board of Elections to have a ballot sent to you in the mail.
– Many residents have cell phones but no data – so they can’t take the process into their own hands – Data they might have is very slow.
– Building materials? block access to vols trying to access the internet through data – kind of like being in an elevator in the basement and on your phone – hotspots help
– Need internet to check and see if polling location has changed
– Need internet to track mail in ballot application and mail in ballot receipt – many paper ballot applications are rejected for errors but noone communicates or advises when the application or ballot has been rejected. You can check this info online. If ballot has been rejected or you voted provisionally at the polls you have 5 days after the election to go to physically go to the Board of Elections in person and try to fix the problem – you already have to be attuned to the voting hoops to make your vote count when there is a problem – but internet is needed to determine if you have a problem in the first place. During elections we will check this information at the door to provide assistance if there appears to be a problem
– Need internet to look up phone number for the board of elections
– Need internet and an unexpired DRIVERS LICENSE to register to vote online
– Need internet to find out about ID requirements and early voting hours”
TakeAway: Fight voter suppression that denies those without internet access and equal opportunity to vote. Provide internet access to register, request ballots, and check their status.
Orginally posted on Dem Labs – Reposted with permission
DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.