A Memphis, Tenn., poll worker turned away people wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts, saying they couldn’t vote. Robocalls warned thousands of Michigan residents that mail-in voting could put their personal information in the hands of debt collectors and police. In Georgia, officials cut polling places by nearly 10%, even as the number of voters surged by nearly 2 million.
The long American tradition of threatening voting access — often for Black people and Latinos — has dramatically resurfaced in 2020, this time buttressed by a record-setting wave of litigation and an embattled president whose reelection campaign is built around a strategy of sowing doubt and confusion.
Voting rights activists depict the fights against expanding voter access as a last-ditch effort by President Trump and his allies to disenfranchise citizens who tend to favor Democrats. The administration insists — despite no evidence of a widespread problem — that it must enforce restrictions to prevent voter fraud.
“We have an incredibly polarized country and we have a political party whose leader thinks it’s to the party’s advantage to make it harder for people to register to vote and to vote,” said Richard L. Hasen, a UC Irvine law professor and authority on voting. “So that is where we are.”