Jim Crow laws were established in the 1960s to prevent Black Americans from exercising their right to vote.
These laws included:
- Literacy tests administered by poll-workers to determine whether the voter could read. Black voters were often deemed ineligible.
- Poll taxes disproportionately affected Black voters by requiring them to pay a fee, which many could not afford, at the polls.
- Grandfather clauses were laws enacted that made first generation voters illegal; a person could not vote unless an older relative had done so in the past. It was virtually impossible for many Black people to be second or third generation voters because most of their ancestors had been enslaved.
Flash forward to 2020 and voter suppression is still alive and well. With early voting underway across the U.S., ways to prevent the public from voting still remain.
Strict voter ID laws, for example, require voters to have a government-issued ID. Without one, they cannot vote. These laws turn away potential voters, primarily people of color, from casting their votes.
Georgia’s “exact match” law, which requires a person’s signature perfectly match that of past records, also impacts a disproportionate number voters. In 2018, 80% of the those who faced the consequences of this law were not White. Although Georgia plans to abandon this law, the misjustice due to its enforcement in previous elections must not be ignored.
More common tactics of voter suppression include:
- Voter confusion due to errors and misinformation.
- Voter intimidation and harassment.
- Limits on the number of polls and long lines.
- Claims that absentee ballots cause voter fraud.
Many people find the process of voting already discouraging and intimidating. Mix these feelings with misinformation spread by the far right, and potential voters give up on the process altogether.
The most recent strategy to disenfranchise voters is spreading the rhetoric that absentee ballots lead to voter fraud. While states are working to make these ballots accessible, this notion attempts to limit the legitimacy of absentee voting.
In 2018, 120 million eligible Americans did not vote. Don’t let 2020 voter suppression take away from your right to vote!
Neighborhood FORWARD wants to put a stop to voter suppression happening throughout the country. Join us by lifting your voice with your vote and help educate others about their rights.