According to the latest numbers, 161 million Americans cast their ballot for President of the United States in the November 2020 election. It was reportedly the largest number of voters to participate in a presidential election in American history.

Even though it was a record number, it still represented only 67 percent of registered voters.  The highest percentage of voters to cast ballots was in 1876 when 82.6 percent of eligible voters participated.

The right for all American citizens to be eligible to vote has been a long, hard fought battle. While originally only white men could vote, several amendments to the Constitution rectified that by allowing African Americans and women to be included.

Instead of celebrating the unprecedented numbers, partisan politics has reared its ugly head and there is a movement in some states to make sure these numbers are not repeated in future elections.

Once it was disclosed that certain states allowed unlimited mail-in voting because of the pandemic, it was immediately assumed that wide-spread fraud was afoot.

To most of us it was not hard to understand the reason for such a large mail-in voter turnout. People were being encouraged to avoid crowds in order to limit the spread of the virus, so voting by mail seemed the best option.

Americans felt the need to let their voices be heard when given the choice between then President Trump and his opponent, Joe Biden. Depending on whom you ask, the outcome was either a rejection of the man himself or the process was rigged, and fraud was involved.

Instead of accepting the results, some politicians are seeking to change a voting system that rejected their candidate.

Currently, there are 361 bills in 47 states with voter restrictions being proposed. Texas, Georgia and Arizona have seen the largest number of restrictive bills introduced.

It is a no brainer to understand why these states would be involved in changing a process that saw their candidate lose when they were confident of a win.

Georgia’s bill gives voters less time to apply for an absentee ballot, reduces early voting in many counties and even criminalizes the act of giving water to voters waiting in line at polling places.

Arizona is considering a bill that would prevent local election officials from conducting voter registration drives.

Texas wants voters who need to vote by mail because of a disability be required to provide written documentation of their disability.

Iowa’s voting bill purges voters to inactive status if they miss voting in a federal election, will require polls to close an hour earlier than they currently do and reduces the amount of paid time off employers must give for people to vote.

These states claim it is about ensuring election integrity. Yet, there has reportedly not been a single case of voter fraud from last year’s presidential election that has made its way to court without being dismissed for lack of merit.

Until 2020, most people trusted the process.

But here we are. Attempting to make it harder for people to vote because one party did not get the outcome they wanted.

It is not difficult to see there is a political agenda at work here and some even have a different perspective on who should be voting.

Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson warned of dangers of voting by the “uninformed.”

Arizona GOP State Representative John Kavanaugh commented that “Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes as well.”

Republican Andrew McCarthy from California wrote, “it would be far better if the franchise were not exercised by ignorant, civics-illiterate people.”

Supreme Court Justice Amy Comey Barrett wrote an opinion as an appeals court judge that voting is a civic right belonging not to all citizens but only to “virtuous citizens”, who exercise it for the benefit of the community.

Maybe they just do not know any better, but I cannot find a line in the Constitution or its amendments that says only smart, virtuous, informed people be allowed to vote. But come to think of it, that would certainly help get rid of some of these idiots.

These restrictive voting rights bills will only serve to discourage and prevent voters from exercising their right to do so.

Real voting reform should include requiring proper identification and allowing no excuse absentee voting, but the Constitution is clear about states’ rights to set their own requirements.

In an election that saw states with as much as 70% of their registered voters exercising that right, we should be celebrating.

The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. It should be protected from politicians who want to abuse it to score political payback for a certain Republican being voted out of office.

Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at anitamcgill99@gmail.com.

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