Can vote for politicians in America

Trump has once again brought up a problem that doesn't even exist. All levels of government and law enforcement agencies are paying close attention to election fraud, he tweeted on Oct. 20. Anyone who commits election fraud must expect the toughest penalties.

A completely unnecessary warning. Election fraud is as widespread in the US as head lice on a bald head. There's more to the tweet. Trump wants to scare. Indeed, if the ballot paper is filled in without authorization, the road to jail is not far. In Texas, Crystal Mason was sentenced to five years in prison in March for casting her vote in 2016. What she didn't know: She had recently been paroled on parole for a tax offense. Those on probation in Texas are not allowed to vote there. Anyone who violates this rule - even if unknowingly - must expect draconian penalties.

That it met a black woman in the case of Crystal Mason and that the Republicans rule in Texas is no more a coincidence than Trump's fear-mongering tweet. Above all, it is Republicans who do a lot to ensure that those who are highly likely to vote democratically do not vote. So African Americans and Latinos. Such threats can be quite impressive. And some may prefer to stay at home than risk jail time just for casting their vote.

Republicans and, less often, Democrats have even more in store for that. Here is an overview of the most popular tricks:

Gerrymandering

There is no good German translation for this word. It means roughly cutting the constituencies in a state so that one party always wins in the end. It works like this: If, for example, the votes of blacks in a constituency determine whether Democrats or Republicans win, then the constituency can be tailored so that the black quarters are no longer included. And instead they are attributed to a constituency where Republicans already have a solid majority. Gerrymandering is now a completely normal tool kit in an election dispute.

This leads to bizarre borders between individual constituencies. The 3rd constituency in Maryland, for example - ruled by Democrats - is more reminiscent of a meandering river than a district. The 7th constituency in Pennsylvania so far looked like two dissimilar butterfly wings were held together by a thread. The parliament in which such constituencies are drawn is dominated by Republicans. And the current Republican-dominated US Supreme Court, the Supreme Court, is often reluctant to crack down on Gerrymandering. Only in particularly blatant cases like in Texas - or the one mentioned in Pennsylvania - has he recently taken action.

Voter identification

That doesn't sound silly at first: if you want to vote, you should be able to identify yourself. In Germany too, in addition to the voting notification, identification documents may have to be presented before the voting slip is thrown into the ballot box. In the USA, however, there is no obligation to have an identity document such as an identity card or passport. And many do not have a driver's license either. Black, poor and old people are particularly often unable or unwilling to identify themselves. However, especially in republican states, there are more and more laws that make an identification card a prerequisite for voting. In Wisconsin, for example, the law has resulted in around 200,000 potentially democratic voters being denied the polls due to a lack of ID. Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by a margin of 22,748 votes.

The argument put forward is the fight against alleged electoral fraud. Trump, for example, blamed election fraud for winning almost three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. The claim is completely out of thin air. In North Carolina, for example, a post-election study by the state election commission found that only 0.00002 percent of the votes were fraudulently cast. Or more precisely: 4.8 million votes were cast. And in only one case it was fraud. In addition to her own, one woman also cast her mother's vote - who had recently passed away. She voted for Trump. Still, North Carolina has the strictest identification rules for voters. However, some of these were criticized by the courts as discriminatory.

Difficult access to the election

It's a simple move: if you don't want certain population groups to vote, you can simply close a few polling stations in their areas. That makes the ways longer. And who would happily accept an hour's journey just to cast their vote? North Carolina, which has taken on a kind of front-runner role in keeping black voters as creative as possible from voting, has not only closed polling stations. The possibility of early voting was also severely restricted there. Early voting is now usually no longer possible on Sundays. However, many black and, above all, democratic voters traditionally used the day to combine going to church with the election. Voting early up to a few days before the actual election date helps lower income groups. Regular election day in the US is Tuesday. Poorer people - most of whom are more likely to vote for Democrats so far - can hardly afford to take half a working day off to vote. It is particularly bad when early voting is restricted in a constituency.

Loss of the right to vote

This has been a long-standing practice to prevent certain voters from voting. In 34 states, including Texas and especially Florida, every citizen loses their right to vote if they sit in jail or serve a suspended sentence. In some cases the right to vote is forfeited for life. The Sentencing Project estimates that around six million Americans will be affected by the 2018 election. Only 1.3 million of them are actually in prison. Black and poor voters are particularly hard hit. One in 13 black voters lost their right to vote in this way. But only one of 56 non-black voters. Black voters vote disproportionately for the Democrats.

Cleaning up the electoral register

Brian Kemp wants to become Republican governor in the state of Georgia. How good that he is currently still the acting interior minister of the state. As such, he watches over the course of the election on November 6th. And it looks like he had 670,000 presumably mostly black and other non-white voters struck off the register last year alone. Allegedly to rid the register of file corpses. In addition, 53,000 voters are waiting for their registration to be finally confirmed. Kemp says it takes time to review the applications. Many of the applications came about through a registration campaign launched by its Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams. That shouldn't increase Kemp's motivation to hurry. Many will probably only find out shortly before the election whether their registration was successful. Or whether they are still registered at all. Which in turn does not increase their motivation to go to the polling station, at the risk of being turned away.

The voter registration game has been a long-standing scandal in the US. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School recently published a study that showed that between 2014 and 2016, 16 million US voters were struck off the electoral roll. Often in automated and sometimes demonstrably incorrect procedures. Sometimes all people who allegedly no longer live in the constituency are deleted. Sometimes thousands of people are struck off who the authorities believe are no longer eligible to vote because of a criminal offense. Sometimes there is a deletion for no apparent reason. Non-white voters, who mostly vote democratically, are disproportionately affected.