2018 Midterm Voter Suppression Successful in Georgia, North Dakota

By Magdalena Villasenor

For decades, several states continue to push more regulations to allow citizens to vote in their state. In the recent midterm elections, Georgia, run by a Republican legislature, the recent midterm election governor’s race consisted of a white Republican man named Brian Kemp, running against a black Democrat female challenger named Stacey Abrams. Kemp was also the Secretary of State of Georgia until he resigned on November 8th to start making the transition to run for the governorship. The Secretary of State is in charge of elections, and voter registration.  Kemp, being the Secretary of State, made a regulation that has caused 53,000 voter registration applications to be put on hold. The regulations were set forth in order to ‘stop voter fraud’ by making it mandatory that each document (driver’s license, Social Security card, etc.) have its information match with each other exactly, and if not, they would be put on hold; in other words, citizens would not be able to vote.  “Georgia’s population is approximately 32 percent black… but the list of voter registration on hold with Kemp’s office is nearly 70 percent black” (Associated press).  It seems that this is just another way to manipulate the race in favor of Brian Kemp, by Brian Kemp. Before the new regulations, the race was very close, but due to this set back, Stacey Abrams lost the race by a slim margin even with the endorsement of celebrity Oprah Winfrey.  Stacey Abrams filed a lawsuit to make the rejected absentee and provisional ballots counted, but it was too little too late for Abrams.

In North Dakota, there was a new regulation for voters set two months before the midterm elections was set to take place in order to ‘stop voter fraud’ by making it mandatory that each voter have a personal mailing address on their ID.  In North Dakota there are many Native American reservations that do not provide individual mailing addresses, let alone street names or house numbers. 

Tribal IDs now have to have personal addresses, but this is impossible when Native Americans on reservations have P.O. boxes.  This entirely alienates Native Americans on reservations and effectively bars them from their legal right to vote. 

The election was between a white Democrat female named Heidi Heitkamp who had the majority support of the Native Americans and was in reelection against a white Republican male named Kevin Cramer. This happened back in 2014, the law/ regulation was sent to the Supreme Court by the federal district court in North Dakota that blocked the Secretary of State to make any new regulations for voter registrations. It was then later decided that the lower courts will decide its outcomes.  The law passed in 2018, but is unconstitutional and discriminatory, as Native Americans were two times more likely to lack a qualifying ID.  In North Dakota there is no pre registration to vote, so now that this regulation passed, IDs were made free for a limited time at Native reservations’ polling places, when they normally cost roughly $10.  Most Native Americans received  their ID and began the process to vote when their new county assigned addresses.  So far 500 Native Americans have renewed their ID’s in order to vote as of Oct. 31.

Since the elections have passed, Heitkamp lost the race to Republican Senator Kevin Cramer. In the last elections, Heitkamp won the race by a mere 3,000 votes thanks to the strong influence of Native American voters, and now lost by 35,139 votes.

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