From MLK to Bernice King: Why Down Ballot Voting Is A Tool To Combat Voter Suppression

Written By Princss6

What is Down Ballot Voting?

Down ballot voting is voting for the state, local, municipal and referendums.  The results of elections lead to resource allocation and budgets. For instance, in 2019 voters in Gwinnett county decided via referendum to reject the expansion of public transportation.  In 2020, voters will decide 27 offices, with only five federal offices on the ballot. Down ballot voting for Gwinnettians would require that each voter familiarize themselves with local issues in order to cast their votes. All politics is local and while nullifying the federal ballot, it is still important to vote down-ballot, i.e. in 22 other state and local races. 

Bernice King, who serves as chief executive of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta,
told Reuters“You can’t take away someone’s right to vote just because they haven’t decided to exercise it. When you take people off the voter rolls because they haven’t chosen to exercise their rights, to me, is suppression.”


What is Voter Purging?

In the state of Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp has championed voter purging. In Gwinnett county, over 19,000 voters have been purged from the voter rolls for inactivity. Statewide four percent of the voter rolls were purged.  This is noteworthy as the margin between Governor Kemp and Stacy Abrams in the Gubernatorial race in 2018 was 1.6%. As the state of Georgia becomes increasingly competitive, removing voters who have not voted since 2012 will potentially impact in elections in 2020. 


How Down Ballot Voting Combats Voter Suppression

As Bernice King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King points out, voter purging is a form of voter suppression and voters should not lose their right to vote due to inactivity. While disaffection with national politics is a demotivating factor for voter turnout, voters should still engage on the state and local level where voting is deciding access to resources and budgets on the state and local area, including such important decisions as access to public transportation and school budgets. Refusing to at least go to the polls to vote in down-ballot races is doing the work of government officials who seek to remove your right to vote for inactivity. 


Simply put, when you don’t show up to at least vote down-ballot, you are complicit in attempts to suppress your vote. On this King Day, as we commit to increased political engagement for economic stability for American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS), you can’t afford to help efforts to suppress your vote.  As the torchbearers of Dr. King’s Legacy, Show UP and Vote Down! 

How to find your voter registration status

Georgia Residents
If you are a resident of the state of Georgia, you can visit to find your voter registration status, polling place and if you are not registered or have been purged and register to vote.

U.S. Residents
If you are outside of Georgia, you can visit to check your voter registration. 



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