A History of Voting Rights and Voter Suppression
While US citizens have had a say in who their elected officials were and what policies would be enacted since the country’s formation, not everyone has had a voice in this democracy. Voter discrimination is still a pertinent issue that affects many Americans to this day.
To provide more context on how deep voter discrimination runs in America, it took roughly 100 years from when the country was founded for the 15th Amendment to be added to The Constitution in order to eliminate the racial barriers to voting. However, many states still continued to practice voter discrimination based on race. Native Americans were only allowed the right to vote in 1924. Voter rights were not only based on race, but also gender. It was only in 1920, through countless years of protesting efforts, that women were granted the right to vote.
To this day there are still significant barriers to voting such as ID requirements, lack of language assistance, accessibility issues for people with disabilities, poll taxes, and polling place closures and consolidations. These barriers, and many others, prevent large groups of predominantly disadvantaged people from voicing their opinions through the vote. But there are amazing nonprofits organizations out there working to combat this discrimination—including the three below that we’re so proud to partner with!
About Rock the Vote
Rock the Vote is an organization that focuses its efforts on empowering younger generations to exercise their right to vote and have their voices heard. The voter turnout amongst younger groups is about 20 to 30 points below that of older groups. Rock the Vote has worked for 30 years to increase voter turnout amongst millennials and Gen Z through various programs and partnerships that encourage them to have their voices heard and enact a positive change in America.
Support Rock the Vote while entering for a chance to win $100,000!
About The Vitalogy Foundation
Founded by the popular rock group Pearl Jam and their manager in 2006, The Vitalogy Foundation is a public nonprofit organization that aids other nonprofit and community organizations working to better society through initiatives in community health, the environment, arts and education, and social change. Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation has partnered with Omaze to promote its efforts to protect voting rights and encourage high voter turnout for the 2020 election.
Support The Vitalogy Foundation’s voting rights efforts and enter for a chance to hang out with Pearl Jam’s own Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament.
About The Voter Participation Center
The Voter Participation Center (VPC) is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization founded in 2003 to increase voter registration in the United States among young people, people of color, and unmarried women. Since then, the organization has helped more than 5 million people register and cast ballots. They work with local election officials, as well as national, state and local partners, to help people register to vote and cast their ballots. VPC’s programming is data-driven, science-based, and focused on mobilizing voters who need our help the most. VPC allows US citizens to register to vote and check their registration status on its website.
Win a trip to Thailand by supporting The Voter Participation Center!
How to Vote: Creating Your Voting Plan
With the upcoming election, it’s important to understand how to cast your vote and create a voting plan. Voting methods include: voting by mail, early voting, and voting in person on election day. These different options each have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on your individual circumstances.
Voting by Mail (Absentee Ballots)
For those who are out of the country, or out of the state that they are registered to vote in, casting your ballot by mail—previously known as an absentee ballot—might be the best option for you. People who typically exercise this option include military members and expatriates living abroad, but it is also a viable option for those who have recently moved and want to cast their votes in the district of their previous residence. This option might be particularly relevant in the uncertain times of social distancing due to COVID-19—you may feel safer voting from the comfort of your own home than braving a potentially crowded voting center.
Voting early is a wise choice for those who want to avoid the chaos of polling centers on election day or for those who anticipate being tied up with work or childcare on the day of the official election. To vote early, you simply locate a voting center near you that is holding early voting hours and show up within their opening hours to cast your ballot. It is worth noting that dates and hours of early voting centers may vary based on where you live—both at a state and county level.
Voting on Election Day
The most traditional voting format is simply showing up to a voting center on election day and casting your ballot for the candidate of your choice. Many modern companies and organizations allow employees flexible hours to allow them to cast their vote on election day, however, as this is not always the case, it is important to come up with the voting plan that works best for you prior to the big day.
At Omaze, we believe in the missions of Rock the Vote, Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy Foundation, and The Voter Participation Center. Increasing voter turnout, expanding voting rights, and overcoming voter suppression are some of the most important factors in an engaged democracy. And we’re excited to announce we’ve made nonpartisan voting organizations the focus of our Cause of the Month for September! Be sure to enter our sweepstakes for the chance to win money and other awesome prizes while contributing to these incredible nonprofit organizations fighting against voter suppression!