Mary Anne Marsh: Stop making it hard to vote -- midterm elections are too important for such shenanigans

Historically, mid-term elections are determined by far fewer voters than presidential elections – and by voters that are more likely to be Republican than Democrats. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case in the 2018 midterm elections.

With eight days until the election, we have seen record numbers of early voters across the country that indicate that the 2018 election will look more like a presidential election than a traditional midterm election. In fact, the current pace of early voting is on track for 40 million votes nationally before Election Day and that would be the highest early vote in modern history.

Furthermore, six states – Delaware, Texas, Indiana, Minnesota, Nevada, and Tennessee – have cast more votes already than the total number of votes in their respective 2014 midterm election.

When that many people vote it is an encouraging sign for democracy. But there are many warning signs too. As we see record early voting across the country we are seeing numerous efforts in the last few weeks to make it more difficult for people to vote:

  • In Georgia, more than 4,500 vote-by-mail applications are missing in DeKalb County, as well as over 900,000 having been removed from voter registration lists.
  • In North Dakota, Native Americans can no longer use their legal address, which is a PO Box, for voter registration as they have for years and as recently as the primary.
  • In Kansas, the only polling place in Dodge City was moved a mile out of town.
  • In Missouri, thousands of voters received false information about absentee ballots.
  • In Texas, students at Prairie View A & M University, a Historically Black College and University, have been denied the right to vote on campus or a polling location in their town.

In addition, we are already seeing errors in votes cast and in the recording of them. In Texas, when voters chose to vote the entire Democratic ticket, their votes for Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate in the U.S. Senate race, are recorded for Ted Cruz, the Republican incumbent. In Georgia, a similar situation is happening when voters cast their vote for Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor – their votes are recorded for the Republican nominee, Brian Kemp.

Making it harder to vote undermines democracy and every American should reject it. When votes are recorded erroneously by design or by default every American should be concerned. The foundation of our democracy is free and fair elections. The examples above are neither free nor fair.

At a time when our democracy seems to be under attack from all quarters and more people are taking their right and responsibility to vote more seriously, we need to make sure that every American can cast their vote and have it counted.

There’s a lot at stake in this election. And we have only eight days left to make sure the 2018 election is conducted without doubts about its fairness or validity.