If anyone doubts that minorities still struggle to attain voting rights, then the film, “Suppressed: The Fight to Vote,” will erase that belief.
The Brave New Films documentary, which made its Los Angeles premiere at First AME Church of Los Angeles on Oct. 3, provides a stark review of voter suppression and disenfranchisement tactics used in Georgia’s 2018 election. The project features people who personally experienced questionable methods and strategies to deny them the right to vote.
The election garnered international attention due to Stacey Abrams, an African American, winning the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor. She ultimately lost by 50,000 votes, however, Abrams cited “widespread voter suppression” by her opponent, Brian Kemp, who also served as Georgia’s secretary of state and oversaw the very election that he was a candidate in.
To many viewers, “Suppressed” lends validity to Abrams’ assertions as well as emphasizes the importance of voting in the 2020 elections. Robert Greenwald, president and founder of Brave New Films, stressed that point during his remarks.
“Fundamentally, I can’t think of an issue that’s more systemic, more basic, that more people fought harder for, that’s more embedded into some of the worst, racist history of this country than voting rights,” said Greenwald, who urged the audience to “become of part of this finishing of the film” by “spreading the word” about voter suppression with the goal of preventing falsifications during the 2020 elections.
The event also featured a panel moderated by Tahil Sharma, faith outreach manager with Brave New Films. Voting rights, voter suppression, and the changes in the L.A. County voting system were among the topics covered by the panel, which included FAME Pastor J. Edgar Boyd, David Hernandez of Churches in Action Los Angeles, Laura Herrera of the County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office, and Aziza Hasan, executive director of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.
“This nation, almost two-and-one-half-centuries-old, is still struggling with the basic right of expressing your own desires in a democratic form,” said Boyd. “This democracy, which was actually formed then, was an experiment in governance. It’s still an experiment in governance. It’s not finished; it’s not complete yet. But you and I can help make it complete.”
Herrera outlined some the changes that the county has implemented to make the voting process easier, more user friendly and accessible for residents. The improvements include additional voting sites with language services, a secure Ballot Marking Device (BMD), which produces a verifiable paper ballot and decreases unauthorized access or hacking, and the expansion of voting from one day to an 11-day period, with centers accepting ballots beginning Feb. 22, 2020, for the March 3, 2020 elections.
Calling on the crowd to exercise their voting rights, Boyd noted, “If this democracy is going to work, this experiment of governance, we all have to participate in that to make it happen.”