Voter protection: The challenge for 2020

Members of Democrats Abroad were invited to join a call last month with Stacey Abrams from Fair Fight. Abrams fought to become the first Black female governor in the U.S., running against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in 2018. Kemp also just happened to be in charge of the Georgia election, a state rife with instances of voter suppression. State voting roll purges, poll closures, four-hour lines at the polls, strict voter ID laws twisted the results of that extremely close election and “disproportionately prevented black and brown citizens from their constitutional right to vote,” explained Angela Fobbs, chair of DA’s Global Black Caucus.

But one needn’t live in states like Georgia to face voting obstacles. Americans living abroad may find that their vote-from-states frequently block voters from viewing their state’s election pages, which can lead to missed deadlines and misunderstood voting instructions. Some states block voters from abroad from reaching their state’s ballot download pages, “effectively blocking ballot access from all but the most determined voter,” according to Julia Bryan, Democrats Abroad Global Chair. Another obstacle could be requiring voters abroad to send their ballots back home via postal mail. Not only can this be expensive, but for Americans living in countries with limited postal service, this makes voting nearly impossible. Then there are notorious misinformation campaigns which spread incorrect information via social channels.

Democrats Abroad works with the Democratic National Committee to stay informed on state voting purges and negotiates with Secretary of State offices regarding access to ballots and election sites, explains Bryan. “And we provide a 24/7 help desk that runs 365 days a year, answering voting questions via email, chat channels and social media channels. If you try to access an election site and it doesn’t work, don’t assume it’s your connection,” Bryan advises. “Get in touch with Democrats Abroad and let us know about the problem.”(Email: gotv@democratsabroad.org)

One last bit of advice: “If someone says you can’t vote, or that you have to provide a photo ID, or register in person, know your rights (that someone is wrong.) Point to Federal voting law and make sure others know their rights, too!”

[Suppressed: The Fight to Vote tells the story of Georgia’s 2018 mid-term election. The 38-minute documentary is available for viewing from Brave New Films free of charge, according to Angela Fobbs, who encourages Democrats Abroad members to view this powerful, galvanizing film. See the trailer, then request the film: https//www.bravenewfilms.org/screensuppress]

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