voter suppression

Mandatory Podcast: Will Arnett’s ‘Smartless’ Reveals Just How Corrupt Voter Suppression Is For the 2020 Election, Way More Tricks Than Treats

Smartless, a podcast by actors Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett, “connects and unites people from all walks of life to learn about shared experiences through thoughtful dialogue and organic hilarity.” Every episode, one of the celebs surprises the other two with a mystery guest. Recently, that guest was politician and attorney Stacey Abrams, who also happens to be the founder of Fair Fight and Fair Count, organizations that fight for voting rights and Census counting, respectively.

Through a 40-minute conversation, Abrams schooled the hosts and listeners on voter suppression.

As Abrams explained, voter suppression is when you are prevented or discouraged from voting, often by an instrument of the government. In the 21st century, most voter suppression is perpetrated by Republicans because, as Abrams stated, “they find themselves on the losing end of an expansion of who can participate in our democracy.”

The strongest predictor of political leanings is race, so the most popular target of voter suppression tactics are people of color because they are more likely to vote Democratic. The second favorite target is students.

Abrams explained that voter suppression comes in several forms, from making it hard to register and stay on the rolls to making it difficult to get an absentee ballot to shutting down or moving polling places. Voter suppression can also manifest as making it complicated to count ballots. (“Or what I like to refer to as Florida,” Abrams said. Not a joke.) Even the fact that the United States’ Election Day is on a weekday and not a national holiday could be construed as a form of voter suppression.

Further complicating matters? Voting is different in every state. “We do not have a single democracy in America,” Abrams explained. “We’ve got 50 different iterations where each state gets to decide how to administer elections.”

Abrams herself was recently the victim of an attempt to suppress her vote. She requested an absentee ballot, but when it arrived, the return envelope that her absentee ballot was supposed to go in was sealed shut. By Georgia law, if she ripped it open, it would not count. She requested a replacement ballot, but it never arrived. Finally, she had to go vote in person.

The podcast gets very technical, very quickly, so you might have to give a listen or two to fully understand how widespread, calculated, and sinister voting suppression is. (Luckily, the guys got a few jokes in, too, so it doesn’t feel like a high school government class lecture.)

The CliffsNotes on how to tackle voter suppression? Make the laws work for voters (leave this to the politicians and attorneys like Abrams). Another is to fill out your Census (to ensure you’re counted, which influences districting). Pay attention to – and participate in – your local elections (most major decisions are made at the local level). Vote by mail (it prevents polling place shenanigans, ensures you don’t get too busy to show up at the polls, and leaves the polls open for those who can’t vote by mail).

Figuring out how to vote can be a pain, but it’s a tiny one compared to four years of fuckwittage by a bad president. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your Secretary of State’s office if you’re having trouble casting your ballot. And don’t give up! Your vote is too important not to be counted.

Cover Photo: YouTube

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