voter suppression in the United States

by the Asian Hispanic Empowerment Organization

In 1870, the United States passed the 15th Amendment which was drafted to protect the voting rights of all Americans regardless of race. This Amendment was greeted with relative disdain in the south as state governments were keen on riding African Americans from the electoral process. In response to the passing of the Amendment, Southern states began enacting laws designed to restore the “white vote” by dismantling the African American voting power. Such laws were designed to only affect African Americans and give relative freedom to white voters. States like Mississippi passed the polling tax laws and literacy tests as they were aware that most African Americans did not have access to education or the ability to pay in order to partake in the electoral practice. Another law was added in order to ensure that only African American voters were being disenfranchised; the Grandfather Clause was a racist attempt at protecting the right to vote for low income illiterate white people, as the clause argued that if anyone in your family had voted before the civil war, then they would not need to pay a fee or pass a literacy test. Although at no point in the law did the lawmakers include the words African American, it is relatively obvious who they were targeting in these laws. Although the Voting Act of 1965 was designed to further protect African Americans from an unjust voting system, modern-day American still fall victim to voter suppression, especially against minority groups.

Although a great effort was placed in the Civil Rights movement on behalf of LBJ’s administration, there was general push back from over 85% of White Americans who claimed that the Civil Rights movement was moving “too fast.” The result of this general discontent against LBJ was the “Southern Strategy,” which was a way in which Richard Nixon tried to sway former Democratic voters into his party. Ths Southern Strategy mainly worked by presenting laws and holding onto principles of racial discrimination. An example of this was a “crack-down” on voter fraud which was another way of saying that 1960’s and 70’s Republicans stood for voter suppression. “The Southern Strategy bolstered racist policies and practices without using racist language.” (Washington Post - How voter intimidation and suppression have evolved since the 15th Amendment)

Today we stand at an interesting crossroads in history, as we find ourselves in a critical point of political and racial progress. In the last few years, more people have stood against modern-day voter suppression, and have called out all the instances where states tried to turn away voters on the basis of their race. The most talked-about instance in 2018 was in the Georgia midterm election between Brian Kemp and Stacy Abrams. The election was considered rather controversial as Brian Kemp, who was Georgia’s Secretary of State at the time, sent for thousands of voter registrations to be cancelled because of the fear of “voter fraud.”


source: Washington Post