If you want to vote in the US, there are a number of bureaucratic subtleties to consider. It is often criticized that the barriers are higher for some groups than for others. A fact check.

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Go to the polling station with your ID and vote – it’s not that easy in the US. Because there are some hurdles before you vote. Some are difficult for certain groups of voters to overcome. A fact check:

Claim: The electoral law and electoral system discriminate against some constituencies in the United States.

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Review: Studies show this is usually correct.

Facts: The Supreme Court decision was extraordinarily tight: By five to four votes, the US Supreme Court overturned the anti-discrimination clause in the electoral law. This was a legal legacy of the American civil rights movement. Until then, states had to submit any amendment to the electoral law to the Washington Department of Justice.

As soon as the clause was gone, some states responded: For example, the Republican Governor of Texas declared on the day of the verdict that a law requiring voter identification would go into effect immediately. This was previously blocked by a federal court as it unduly disadvantaged black and Spanish voters.

Registration obstacles

If you want to vote, you must register for it. Most states have been able to do this online for a while. However, there are differences in the requirements: in some places, voters are required to show a photo state certificate.

In the US, however, not every citizen has one. The ID card system is regulated at the federal level, there is no equivalent to the German ID card.

Studies show that fewer non-white US citizens have the required document than white people – so this requirement is a bigger hurdle for them. In addition, a 2017 US study found that the difference in turnout between white and non-white voters in states with strict laws was significantly greater than in states where it is sufficient to confirm their identity, for example, through an affidavit. In some states, a driver’s license or student card can also serve as proof of identity.

Barriers to Voting

Georgia voted in June. It was hot and humid – and the lines for some polling stations were almost endless. Long waiting times are fundamentally nothing new there; there were already difficulties in the previous elections.

Similar problems are known from other states. But this time it was extreme in places. Some voters and the Democratic Party of Georgia then filed suit against the responsible organizers.

A report by an independent expert on the complaints side provided results in line with previous studies: minorities were more likely to experience long waiting times.

At the same time, they mainly rely on personal voting, as minority voters are less likely to vote by post than whites. There are similar lawsuits in other states.

Possible problems with postal voting

US President Donald Trump repeatedly claims that postal ballots are said to lead to more fraud – which is not based on any statistical basis. The possible problems are different: votes are not counted because they arrive too late or documents are incorrectly completed.

But the percentage of unaccepted absentee votes is relatively low. In the last presidential election it was about 1 percent. Compared to this, the share of invalid votes among the votes cast personally is even lower.

Due to the corona pandemic, more votes than normal are expected to be cast by post – including by citizens unfamiliar with the procedure and more likely to make mistakes. Experts assume that the proportion of unaccepted votes will therefore be higher than normal. Black voters are less likely to vote by mail than white voters, so for some of them, it may be the first vote by mail.

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