But actually

Instead of criticizing protesters for not voting, we should be outraged it’s not easier to vote

Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images

Earlier this week, a local TV station in Portland, Oregon found several of the anti-Trimp protesters arrested in the city didn’t vote. Inspired by the story in Portland, a local paper in Richmond, Virginia thought it’d be clever to do it’s own little investigation into whether protesters arrest there cared enough to vote and published it yesterday. It claims 5 of twelve protesters arrested for blocking traffic did not vote and has a quote from a political analyst saying that undermines their credibility.

But you know what’s not in the article? Any mention at all of Virginia’s strict voter ID rules, which have been on the books for about three years and make it harder to vote in the state. Voter fraud is extremely rare (like less than 31 instances in a billion votes rare), and there’s not really any question these laws are aimed at helping Republicans win by suppressing minority voters.

Voter ID laws aside, it’s still way harder than it needs to be to vote. For on thing, election day is during the work week (maybe it should be a holiday or on the weekend when more people will have free time). Also, some people have to wait in line for hours to cast their ballots (oh, and surprise, those people tend to be non-white voters). And while it is a civic duty to vote, it’s easy to understand why some of the protesters in Portland didn’t feel like their vote would matter—of course Oregon would go blue.

So sure, everyone should vote, and some protesters probably don’t have great reasons for not doing so. The bigger, much more important story here though is it shouldn’t be so hard to exercise that right.