Block-spanning lines of voters waiting to case a ballot.
A single, solitary ballot drop box for a county containing millions of residents.
Voter registration websites crashing or other unexpected problems being reported with hours to go before a deadline.
And behind it all, officials mainly from one political party dedicated to making voting more difficult, rather than simpler.
This is the reality of voting in 2020, with less than two weeks to go before the November general election. It’s important to recognize and name what we’re seeing. This is voter suppression, pure and simple. Throughout our country, we see states — either intentionally or through neglect — erecting obstacles in front of would-be voters.
Strangely enough, these obstacles have a way of occurring in swing states. Georgia has seen the lengthy lines for advance voting. Texas has limited absentee ballot drop-off boxes. Pennsylvania was swamped by complaints as its registration deadline neared. In Virginia, a broken cable took down the state’s registration website.
What’s the common thread? It’s easy enough to spot. Democratic voters are often younger or voting for the first time. Sometimes they are lower-income or from communities of color. These are groups that need to register for the first time or that have problems with mail delivery or who need help navigating the internet. Sometimes they even have difficulty finding the time and space to vote.
For the last decade-plus, Republican officials have attempted to make it more difficult for these folks to vote. Registration has additional requirements, and voting itself often requires an ID card. Voter rolls are "purged" of supposedly inactive voters, yet often including very active ones. Fewer voting sites and machines are available for poorer, more densely populated areas.
And when problems occur — remember, they’re meant to occur under this framework — Republicans can claim that our voting system is rife with fraud and add even further encumbrances.
Kansas is relatively lucky. Without the odious presence of Kris Kobach in the secretary of state’s office, registration and voting here is easier than it once was. Early voting is widely available.
But it’s worthwhile for all of us to keep watch. If we become more competitive between the parties (and the race between Democrat Barbara Bollier and Republican Roger Marshall is a prime example of this), we could well see poisonous rhetoric about restricting voting return. And if these other states are any guide, outright suppression could follow.