Black Americans’ Right to Vote Under Attack

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Voter rights are under attack nationwide as states pass voter suppression laws designed to make it more difficult for some Americans, especially black Americans, to register to vote or vote.

While voter suppression has been practiced in the United States at least since the Reconstruction Era (1865–1877), outright voter suppression tools like ballot taxes and literacy tests aimed at Blacks have long been banned. But in 2013, the Supreme Court declared section 4 (b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 unconstitutional, giving states the green light to implement electoral laws and procedures they chose without prior authorization from a federal court, as previously required by Article 4 (b). .

Legislatures in the states concerned, especially those in the South, wereted no time in passing laws to thwart the electoral process and deny voters the right to vote, mainly in minority communities, on the basis of lies about prevalence. electoral fraud.

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Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, there was an assault on the state’s repressive voter identification laws, onerous restrictions on voter registration and postal ballots, the closure of polling stations serving black communities, changes to early voting and the purging of electoral lists. While repressive laws can also have an impact on the elderly, students, and people with disabilities, they are outright and intentionally targeting black Americans and black voters who are most affected by them. For example, a recent analysis from the famous Brennan Center for Justice found that bills to reduce early Sunday voting and access to postal voting would weigh much more heavily on black voters than white voters.

The recent sense of voter repression and laws began their vigorous march in 2011 after the 2010 elections marked the start of a significant shift in political control of state legislatures (more Republican control) and as the country faced a negative reaction to the election of its first black president, Barack Obama. The 2020 presidential election results fueled the fire as unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud by disillusioned Trump supporters ushered in new state voter suppression laws designed to prevent future elections from happening. achieve the historic turnout observed in 2020, especially in the black community.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, in mid-2021, at least 17 states had enacted 28 new laws restricting access to the vote. At least 12 states will make postal voting and counting more difficult. At least 8 states have enacted laws that make in-person voting more difficult due to restrictive voter identification requirements, limits on voting locations and times, and reduced registration deadlines.

In addition to new legislation that makes it harder for some Americans to vote, Republican-controlled state legislatures have taken steps that undermine the overall voting process. For example, Georgia and Montana have extended the rights of election observers, and Iowa, Georgia and Arkansas seek to punish local or even state election officials for technical errors or limit the power of election officials by transferring some of these powers to partisan state legislatures. The impetus for all of these actions is the big lie that the 2020 presidential election was strewn with frauds that caused the unjust defeat of Republican candidate Trump.

It can be argued that voter suppression laws are not only discriminatory, but violate one person doctrine, a vote long affirmed by the Supreme Court, which requires that each district for the election of representatives be roughly equal in population, thus eliminating, at least theoretically, the tools to suppress voters. like gerrymandering and poor distribution. Voter suppression laws have the same intent and effect as long-banned voter suppression tools like ballot taxes, literacy tests, and misallocation and therefore should not be tolerated as they dilute the black vote by effectively making a black vote equal to less than a white vote.

A theoretical example makes this point clear.

For illustration purposes, assume that for every 100 eligible black voters, 25 cannot or are likely not to vote due to restrictive identification requirements, elimination of nearby polling stations, politically motivated purging of voting lists, intimidation by newly empowered poll observers, restrictions changes in postal voting requirements or voter registration bans … then only 75 of those 100 Potential black voters will vote, so the overall collective vote of blacks is effectively only ¾ of the vote of their white counterparts who are not as affected by voter suppression laws.

This is of course the desired intention of state legislators who pass voter suppression laws because they are well aware that the laws are discriminatory and have a negative impact on the black community more than the white community. Yet they defend the laws in a spurious effort to dilute the strength of the black vote and compensate for the growing participation of blacks in the political arena and attendance at the polls.

Voter suppression laws are downright dangerous and a threat to democracy. Like election taxes and literacy tests, if voter suppression laws are allowed and extended, state lawmakers could theoretically eliminate a significant portion of black voters or voters from any group with whom they have political differences. , inherent dislikes or divergent views.

It is clear that the voter suppression laws are discriminatory. The solution is simple but is retained in the US Senate by Senate Republicans. The People’s Law, passed by the House and awaiting Senate action, would block many electoral restrictions at the state level and expand rather than restrict voter turnout and access to polling stations by reinstating the law on polling stations. voting rights, by strengthening postal voting. system, instituting early voting nationwide, protecting against faulty purges, enabling same-day and online registration, and preventing unreasonable wait times at polling stations.

The properly enforced For the People Law would remove artificial and politically motivated barriers to voting and ensure that every vote counts as one and that our democracy works for everyone – not just a privileged and preferred sector or political party.

John L. Johnson is a retired businessman, entrepreneur and teacher. He was for many years an economic columnist for The Fayetteville Observer.

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