Op-ed by London Lamar in the Commercial Appeal

Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed President Trump and his administration disregard the integrity of the political process by blatantly bending the law to overwhelmingly favor their agenda.

These tactics have left the country in utter shock as we witness the same Trump-like tactics influence the actions of the Shelby County Election Commission in the most blatant form of voter suppression and disenfranchisement we’ve witnessed in recent years.

On Tuesday, the election commission released a new early voting schedule for the Aug. 2 election which has sparked outrage countywide and rightfully so.

Citizens must be aware that the proposed new early voting locations and times directly disenfranchise Memphis inner-city voters, black voters, seniors, working class citizens, and young voters.

Just weeks ago, in the May 1 county primaries, the election commission opened all early voting locations for the usual full two weeks. In that election, there was a five percent increase in total voter turnout and a seven percent increase in early voting turnout.

With Tennessee being 50th in the nation for voter turnout, this is what we should want to see, right? Apparently, the election commission thinks differently.

For the Aug. 2 election, the commission proposes that all early voting locations will only be open 10 out of the 14 allotted days. For the first four days, the only location voters will be able to vote is the Agricenter — 15-20 miles from citizens living on the western half of the county.

The commission also wants to reduce voting hours by one, and add five early voting locations in the eastern half of the county, which is heavily Republican.

Regardless of the commission’s intent, one can’t help but find it suspicious that they would make such a drastic change without putting forth a real effort to inform or engage the public.

For the past couple of weeks, community members, educators, and candidates have educated the voting base on the early voting schedule from the May primaries.

This abrupt change could cause a great deal of confusion, ultimately deterring some voters who are not able to lead a lifestyle that affords them much flexibility.

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