THE BLOG
09/15/2014 04:20 pm ET Updated Nov 15, 2014

Limiting Voter Participation in the Middle of Crisis

Sara D. Davis via Getty Images
In less than two months, Americans will once again head to the polls to participate in the all-important midterm elections. But unfortunately, not everyone will be able to cast a vote. On Friday, a federal appeal's court reinstated Wisconsin's harsh voter ID law that will in effect disenfranchise thousands of minority and poor voters from the upcoming election. Wisconsin is just the latest state to join dozens of others with new draconian voting laws already on the books. If this summer has taught us anything, it's to remind us of the significance of elections as the leaders we choose will make decisions that impact us directly on a daily basis. Whether it's policing tactics, public education, legislation to combat domestic violence, access to quality health care and more, who we elect will greatly determine key issues that matter to us all. The question is, if we are in a crisis with so many things hanging in the balance, why limit participation in the process? The answer is pretty obvious. Georgia State Senator Fran Millar recently made shocking and outrageous statements in response to early voting in Dekalb County, specifically at the South Dekalb Mall. He stated:

"This location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches ... Is it possible church buses will be used to transport people directly to the mall since the poll will open when the mall opens?"

He was also quoted as saying that he would prefer "more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters." His glaringly partisan and discriminatory words are indicative of many so-called elected officials who would rather shut citizens out of the electoral process because they know that the power rests in the hands of the people. Even when tremendous amounts of money are poured into election campaigns, the people have the final say when they walk into that voting booth. They know it and we know it. And that's exactly why they have been working so diligently to keep many away. When we look at the situation in Ferguson, Missouri and the tragic death of Michael Brown, we are reminded of the importance of who we elect to our city councils, who sits on our local board of education committees, who we pick to represent us in Congress, in the Senate and more. The horrific cases in Ferguson, in Staten Island with the death of Eric Garner, and all across the country serve as stark reminders that we must have a say in who polices us, and how that policing is done. We must, we must, let our voices be heard on Election Day. We cannot reform institutional racism or systemic policies if we are not actively engaged. It's not enough to simply complain about injustice; the only way to prevent future injustice is to create the society we would like to see, one where we are all equal under the law. Back in 1990, Joe Biden (who was a Senator at the time), introduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in Congress. Though it took a few years for the Act to be signed into law, it transformed the way in which we investigate and prosecute crimes against women. According to the White House itself: the

VAWA changed law enforcement practices, improved the criminal justice system, and created a network of services for victims. The bill established new federal crimes of interstate domestic violence and stalking, doubled penalties for repeat sex offenders, and sparked the passage of laws at the state level to protect victims. Since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, rates of domestic violence have decreased by over 50%.

In light of the Ray Rice incident, it's important to keep pertinent issues like domestic violence and women's rights on our radar as we head to the polls in November. Again, who we elect can greatly impact a woman's right to choose, and what sorts of laws are in place to protect her. All women, regardless of her economic status or racial background, have a right to vote and no politician or regressive law should prevent her from doing so.

Recently, much of our attention has also been focused overseas with growing threats from groups like ISIS and tensions around the world. As the president seeks support both at home and abroad for a resolution to these crises, who we elect to Congress and the Senate will also have international implications. Do we want leaders that will work together to create sustainable solutions? Or do we send obstructionists that are more concerned with their own personal agendas instead of resolving major issues? Just one more reason why every vote -- and I mean every vote -- matters this November.

There is no shortage of challenges currently facing us. Whatever your passion, your cause, your calling in life, you must remember how vital it is to have your say in the upcoming election. The right-wing is taking extreme measures to stop your ability to vote because they understand the power that it holds. Let us prove them all wrong once again. Limiting voter participation in the middle of a national crisis is unacceptable and we will not go for it. Too many have fought and died for our right to vote so if people think we will not push back -- guess again.

Every person, every vote.