As the 2020 presidential election grows closer day by day, it is essential to stay informed about the pervasive methods of voter suppression. A newly released film will help you do just that.
“Suppressed 2020: The Fight to Vote” premieres Wednesday, August 5, at 2 p.m EST.
The first iteration of this film—”Suppressed: The Fight to Vote“—was released in 2019 and documented issues of voter suppression through statistics and firsthand accounts after the Georgia gubernatorial election in 2018, which pitted Stacey Abrams against Brian Kemp.
The 2020 updated version of the film focuses on voter suppression through poll closures, voter purges and more, in which African American communities are specifically targeted.
In more ways than one, the film shows how voter suppression is intrinsically linked to racism, and the insidiously discriminatory methods in play by politicians.
Linda Marshall, who was interviewed in the film, shared with Ms. her experience voting in Georgia in 2018.
“My experience was extremely disappointing,” said Marshall, who moved to Georgia in August of 2018, and wanted to be ready to vote for the fall. Marshall said she completed the necessary paperwork and sent it to the Georgia secretary of state’s office—but never heard back.
When it got close to the election, she began making inquiries and discovered nobody could find her application. Her name was not on the roll. The secretary of state’s office then said she must go to her polling place and ask for a provisional ballot, which she did.
After all of her efforts, she was still denied that ballot, despite the laws regarding provisional ballots. After 65 years of voting, Marshall did not get the chance to vote.
Marshall told Ms.:
“You know, I am a former government instructor and faculty member, so I used to teach people all the time about the importance of voting. And of course, I’ve tried to practice it myself. So I was particularly appalled at what happened when I got [to Georgia].
“And I’ve had two years to think about this. And I really think what I ran into were the invisible barriers that have been placed in many, many parts of the registration process, the polling stations, the purges—it’s a concentrated effort to reduce (or make very difficult) the process of voting. I think it’s linked with political parties. I think it’s linked with different ethnic groups, minority groups.”
Marshall wasn’t alone in her unempowering, unsuccessful attempt to vote. The 2019 version of “Suppressed” covers how voter suppression can happen to any of us—and often does.
While people of color are specifically targeted in efforts of voter suppression, it still looms over the entire population: students, those who have recently moved and anyone voting with an absentee ballot.
The Ms. Q&A: Robert Greenwald on 2020 Voter Suppression
In an exchange with Ms., Robert Greenwald, the producer of the film and creator of company Brave New Films, spoke to us about the creation process of “Suppressed” and what it has illuminated for him:
Audrey Gibbs: Did you have a personal experience that inspired you to create this film. If so, what? And if not, what brought to light the importance of shedding light on this topic for you?
Robert Greenwald: I founded Brave New Films after a career in commercial film and television to shine a light on the most pressing social justice issues of our time. Voter suppression has always been a serious problem, but when I saw the scale and intensity of voter suppression in Georgia’s 2018 midterms, and Stacey Abrams’s powerful response, I knew we needed to tell the full story of what happened on the ground and share the experiences of voters who lost their right to vote.
AG: What was the most challenging aspect of the creation process?
RG: Creating a film is always a balancing act of organization, logistics and creativity. We really wanted to make sure we told many different stories of voter suppression to show how insidious it can be, and how it can happen to anyone: students, retirees, veterans. I’m ultimately glad we included as many of those perspectives as possible, because it creates a richer, more nuanced picture of what it was like to vote in Georgia in 2018, but collecting that much footage is challenging.
AG: What most do you want viewers to take away from the film?
RG: Voting is a crucial tool in effecting change. As we say in the film, if your vote didn’t matter, they wouldn’t be trying to stop it. We want to make sure that not only are voters educated about voter suppression, but that they’re empowered to confront it in their own communities.
AG: Anything you want our readers to know that may not be in the film? Or has happened since the film’s creation was finalized?
RG: What we’re seeing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the risks voters have had to take to get to the polls in states like Wisconsin and Kentucky, is another major vector for voter suppression. No one should have to risk their life to vote in America, and yet we’re seeing it play out across the country. It’s one of the reasons we chose to add some additional footage to the film, providing context of the state of voting rights in America before and after the pandemic struck.
AG: What is your advice to voters (suppressed and not suppressed) for this upcoming election?
RG: Even if you don’t see voter suppression yourself, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a very real problem for others. Take action and work to protect not only your vote, but the votes of people throughout your community. Voting is more important now than it has ever been, and it’s also more threatened than it has ever been. Volunteer to be an election worker, help register people in your community and work to challenge those who try to disenfranchise vulnerable communities.
AG: How do you suggest—in the coming election—regarding the pandemic, America protects both democracy and it’s voters simultaneously?
RG: By protecting voters, America can protect its democracy. Expanding access to mail-in voting, as discussed in our video with Alec Baldwin, is an important step that will give voters a safe way to cast their ballot and make their voice heard. Americans have a right to vote, and our government must ensure we can do so safely.”
Representative Terri Sewell, Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Cory Booker will be participating in the new premier on Facebook’s virtual launch.