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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Bullock

Voting: A non-partisan right

I have been fighting for voting rights my entire adult life. It can be lonely sometimes. I am glad to have company lately, with the public eye currently on voting rights. The Philadelphia Inquirer recently penned an editorial pointing out that even though the 19th Amendment gave white women the franchise, voter suppression tactics continue today, such as voter ID requirements. A recent article in The National Geographic points to the long American history of voter suppression. The article mentions the 2014 Supreme Court decision, Shelby County vs. Holder, striking down a segment of the game changing 1965 Voting Rights Act, protecting voting rights of black and poor citizens.

This recent spotlight on voting rights is critical, especially given the current demand for a reckoning of our country’s racism. However, most of the coverage I am seeing shows partisan bias, casting Republicans as bad guys and Democrats as good guys. I would like to call up the casting director and point out that both parties practice voter suppression when they believe it is beneficial to their needs. This is a critical problem to our democracy, as independents now outnumber those affiliated with the two major parties.

Both parties actively bar independents in many states from voting in primaries, including Pennsylvania. This, even though primary elections are publicly funded and are the important first round of elections, determining who the rest of us can vote for in the general elections. Gerrymandering is a tactic of both parties, where politicians choose their voters instead of the other way around. Closed primaries and gerrymandering render lifeless any real competition in elections and lead to a result which does not represent the will of the people.

These are systems that directly and indirectly suppress the voting rights of non-partisans. I am founder of Independent Pennsylvanians, a group of concerned citizens advocating for the voting rights of non- affiliated voters. No one should be forced to join a party in order to exercise the right to vote. Our democracy needs a lifeline of constructive innovation and an infusion of humane collaboration. Join us in building the jaws of life to pry open the two-party stranglehold on elections. We are all negatively affected by rule of the two-party minority. Join us in bringing in that new life force. Let’s take back the power of the ballot box. Our democracy depends on it. Power to the people, not the parties.

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