Hi, Reddit, I’m Ari Berman, a senior reporter at Mother Jones. I just investigated how voter suppression laws threw Wisconsin to Trump, and possibly the whole election: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/10/voter-suppression-wisconsin-election-2016/

I'll be taking all of your voting rights questions at 3:30 pm ET.

Proof: https://twitter.com/AriBerman/status/921095565336829953

The chat has ended, thanks everyone!

Comments: 676 • Responses: 16  • Date: 

iaalaughlin163 karma

Is there any proof of the examples you gave being anything more than bad luck?

I'd be willing to bet that the number of people who weren't able to vote because they lost their license is statistically insignificant.

Did you consider other reasons why the vote turnout was low? For example, anecdotally, many people of color that I know were going to vote for Obama because he is black. They also weren't thrilled about Clinton. Or Trump. Anecdotally again, many women that I spoke with were eager to vote for Clinton because of her gender.

Is it possible that voter turnout plunged in predominantly black districts because they didn't feel they had a horse in the race, so to speak?

ariberman-56 karma

According to UW study, 1 in 10 people who didn't vote in Milwaukee & Madison cited the voter ID law as a reason. So it definitely contributed to lower turnout. Wrote about that here http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/09/a-new-study-shows-just-how-many-americans-were-blocked-from-voting-in-wisconsin-last-year/

waterbuffalo75065 karma

As a reason, or as the primary reason?

ariberman-31 karma

6% said main reason, 11% said a reason

GaryRuppert57 karma

How much of the turnout drop would have still existed if the Clinton campaign actually made an effort to educate low information Dem voters about the law instead of assuming they would win Wisconsin?

ariberman-51 karma

That would have helped but there still would've been people disenfranchised by the ID law & other changes

Tullyswimmer42 karma

Have you also investigated how out-of-state voters in NH could have tipped the state for Hillary?

tt12345x0 karma

Hi Ari! What's the next step following Gill v. Whitford? If the court sides with the Wisconsin GOP, how do we stop partisan gerrymandering?

ariberman9 karma

It's going to be very difficult to challenge partisan gerrymandering in courts if court sides with Wisconsin GOP. That's why case so important

hello_ocean-14 karma

Do you think that Scott Walker has been left in Wisconsin instead of joining the administration to protect the suppression and gerrymandering?

ariberman5 karma

Don't know why he didn't get job with Trump but voter suppression will be one of his main legacies in WI

cmillburg-15 karma

Hi Ari! I reiterate others' thanks for your work on these issues. I'm a third-year law student who wants to focus on voting rights, election law, campaign finance, etc. My question is, how do you make people really care about this stuff, when they just don't think it's a problem? I frequently run into the problem where, when I'm having conversation with someone about these issues, people say things like "What's the big deal? It's just an ID." or "It doesn't affect me" or "Well people could commit voter fraud, and it's important to stop that from happening."

I can throw out statistics and stories all day, but for a lot of folks, those instincts and beliefs are pretty deeply ingrained. In your experience, what are effective ways of changing peoples' minds about this issue, if they're not inclined to believe it's a problem in the first place?

ariberman-9 karma

if 90% of the public has an ID then it's going to be hard to message against this. I think personal stories are effective in breaking through the clutter while also showing that people who want voter ID laws also want to do things like cutting early voting & closing polling places that are very unpopular

abusivemoo-17 karma

Hey Ari, thanks for all your hard work. Do you have any concerns about not just voter suppression but vote manipulation? Data has been analyzed suggesting highly irregular patterns, like 3 precincts in Pennsylvania voting exactly 2:3 Republican and tiny precincts in Wisconsin reporting votes massively above the amount of registered voters. Given the reports of hacked voter rolls and how easy it is to hack the machines themselves, what is your level of concern as to actual legitimacy of the vote count itself?

Edit: Here's a link to a tweet I saw re: 3 Pennsylvania precincts voting at exactly a rate of 2:3. Note that I haven't independently confirmed these numbers, nor has a major news outlet. I just saw this today.

Edit 2: Looks like downvote brigade has arrived. We must be doing something right.

abusivemoo-8 karma

Follow up and more relatedly, what are the concerns for voter rolls themselves re: vote suppression?

ariberman-3 karma

Need to look into this more but I'm concerned about integrity of voting rolls because we know Russian hackers tried to access them and were able to get into voting rolls in Illinois

drummajorinst-23 karma

Hi Ari, I read your book and recently graduated NYU and now work for Drum Major Institute-- a non profit founded by MLK Jr. in the 60s and we focus on voting rights. I was wondering if you would be interested in speaking with us and throwing out any ideas you have on how to start small and be effective in the voting reg and rights world in NYC. What ideas would you tell a 23 year old looking to make common sense change under a non profit? Thanks!

ariberman5 karma

Yes, I'd be happy to. You can reach me through ari-berman.com. I'd pick an issue that you really care about it and push it and maybe partner with bigger groups for maximum impact

Kaizen428-27 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! States have used various methods to suppress the vote (voter ID, restricting early voting days, etc.). Do you think voter ID is the most effective way to suppress the vote out of all of the potential methods? And are there any new methods the public should be on the lookout for in their communities/states?

ariberman8 karma

I think it all has an impact: voter ID, cutting early voting locations/hours, disenfranchising ex-felons, making it harder to register, purging voting rolls. Voter ID gets most attention but problem is bigger than that

jaysjami-29 karma

This is really disappointing but not shocking unfortunately. Thank you for bringing attention to this. Is voter suppression in other states also being investigated?

ariberman9 karma

Thanks for reading. Yes, voter suppression is/was a big issue not just in Wisconsin but also other states. I've been trying to bring more attention to this issue & there are a lot of groups working on it such as ACLU

Former42Employee-32 karma

Ari, thank you for all of your work. I feel like many Americans are aware of the tools at the disposal of those who seek to disenfranchise people of color...but the choice of target means many Americans won't care.

Do you have any personal experience convincing someone close to you to see this as a problem? If so how do you normally start that conversation?

ariberman6 karma

Usually I give them the facts:

this is how rare voter fraud is. this is how many people are impacted by voter suppression. and then I usually tell a story about someone who had problems voting, to show that this is more common than they think.

hardatworkhere-34 karma

Hi, I just read your article today and was really blown away by it. Thanks so much, I will be sharing it far and wide. What do you think would be one of the single most important things a regular person like me can do to combat this sort of voter suppression (other than voting for the candidates who support voting rights)? Donate, volunteer, something else?

ariberman6 karma

Thank you! I'd say focus on a specific state or community and get involved with local organizations there like League of Women Voters, ACLU, NAACP etc working on this issue

PutinsButtCheeks-37 karma

So between Russian collusion and voter suppression the election was basically stolen?

ariberman-1 karma

Put it this way: I think the rules of the election were manipulated by GOP & Trump campaign for their own benefit

redshrek-38 karma

Hi Ari, thanks so much for your tireless coverage of this issue. Given the widening use of voter ID laws by the GOP, what chances do we have to realistically push back against these laws especially in the current environment?

ariberman10 karma

Thank you! I think that's why it's important to really devote resources to helping people get IDs, like ACLU is doing, because it's going to become harder to fight back against all these laws in the courts

KubrickIsMyCopilot-54 karma

Does your research lead you to conclude that Trump is illegitimate, as most Americans think?

(LOL, lookie here - Russian brigaders. Can't imagine why they find this question threatening.)

ariberman11 karma

Voter suppression played a bigger role than people realize in states like WI & there's still a lot we don't know about the extent of collusion between Russia and his campaign