While the president continues to weave false tales around mysterious ballots found in unnamed rivers, let’s talk about what is really going on. Colored women walk the walk, stand in long lines and navigate through a system that has been deliberately made challenging for one reason only: to suppress our votes. And why? Colored women are prepared to play a decisive role in this year’s election. States like Florida, Texas, Georgia and Arizona are in the game because the impressive colored women are voting.
An analysis by She the People based on the 2016 census data shows the power of colored women to decide the election. In 2016, Trump won with 113,000 votes in Florida, where 883,000 eligible colored women did not vote. He won with 807,000 votes in Texas, where more than 2 million eligible colored women did not vote. And he won with 91,000 votes in Arizona, where 342,000 eligible women of color did not vote. With higher voter turnout, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will win these warring states.
But these numbers tell only part of the story. In 2016, voter oppression played an important role in the election results. In Michigan, for example, more than 75,000 votes were invalidated, especially in the Detroit area. In Wisconsin, voter identification laws prevented colored women from voting, especially in Milwaukee, and threw 23,000 votes off the election for Trump.
Voter oppression in 2020 continues to try to weaken the voting power of colored women. These are criminal acts. The perpetrators must be punished and called to account for what they really are: anti-democratic forces that are trying to rob us of our votes and our power.
But the thing is this: We are ready for this, and we are not going away.
Colored women, especially black women, have long been standing in long lines. This is the unfortunate norm in states like Georgia, where there are too few voting machines for the population. Generation after generation, those who want to silence us are finding ways to make voting more difficult. But we do it anyway.
According to new data collected and analyzed by Catalist, early voter turnout of colored women is going through the roof this year in key states.
In Georgia, the voter turnout of colored women is almost twice as high as in 2016; more than 348,000 colored women have already voted, compared to 177,000 at this time in 2016. Among black women in the state, voter turnout has risen by 9 points. This is despite the repressive tactics that directly affect black women.
Of course, the attempts to suppress votes are not only aimed at black women. In Pennsylvania this year, a decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court not to extend the deadline for postal voting had a direct impact on 400,000 low-income voters from Asian-American and Pacific islands with limited English participation who needed assistance in applying for and translating ballots. Both voter registration and ballot application forms are available in Pennsylvania in English and Spanish only.
Nevertheless, Pennsylvania today has about 100,000 more colored women voting than at this time in 2016, when Trump won the state by only 44,000.
In Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott has not only refused to expand postal voting for those concerned about or particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 bill, but earlier this month he announced the closure of satellite sites for Texans who can vote by mail, leaving only one mailbox per county. This is a tactic of voter suppression found in black and Latinx communities, which often have fewer polling stations per capita than other areas. For this reason, we see mainly colored people standing in long rows at the polls. On average, black and Latinx voters wait about 45 percent longer than white voters.
In one of the many lawsuits Texas Republicans have filed to prevent places like Harris County (where Houston is located and where many voters are colored women) from expanding voter access, they admitted: “As Texas goes, so goes the rest of the country. As Harris County goes, Texas will go. To date, Texas’ voter turnout of women of color has increased fourfold from 2016; over 650,000 more women of color in Texas have voted compared to around that time in the last presidential election.
One of the most outrageous and overlooked communities suffering from blatant, historical voter oppression is the indigenous population. In Jackson County, South Dakota, for example, the county council voted to close the statutory early voting site on the Pine Ridge Reservation, expressing concerns about COVID-19. However, the Kadoka polling place where whites vote remained open. Voting by mail is also a challenge in the indigenous community, as most reservations do not allow mail to be delivered home.
We have seen it all before – only now we have a president who calls for intimidation of voters under the guise of protecting a fair election. White racists have come out into the open, shielded and empowered by an administration that refuses to denounce them. We have an ongoing pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 people and has been used as a pretext for the closure of polling stations serving predominantly colored communities. And we have unsubstantiated accusations of electoral fraud, which are used to question the outcome of the election and incite violence.
Yes, it is easy to become discouraged, especially when we have been fighting the struggle for so long. But never before in history have colored women had so much power to influence an election. Never before have so many colored women run up and down the ballot in races. That is the difference. We are ready to govern. We are ready to uplift the fearless women who represent us and to speak up for the issues that affect our communities.
And no matter how hard they try to stop us, we are not going anywhere. Last week alone, our volunteers wrote to 303,000 Texas women of colored voters throughout the country who rarely voted in the past, and 116,000 in Pennsylvania. We will push until the last hour of the election. This is our year, and no one will turn us around.
Aimee Allison is the founder and president of She the People, a national network of women of color in politics. She is a columnist for Tekk.tv.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own….