feature: voter suppression is very american

October 20, 2014

Democracy is a word in the United states used very freely and undoubtedly something everyone within this country believes is actively practiced within the confines of the 50 states that come together to make this great union. By definition democracy means, a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representative. Plainly speaking a nation governed by it’s citizens, whom may be elected to lead and may also elect their leaders. If democracy could be fulfilled to it’s greatest capacity many people would believe in these systems a lot more than they currently do. The power of a vote is immense and essential to how effective you may make democracy work in your favor. Every vote actually does count, ask your self this. If voting didn’t count, and wasn’t the driving force to make the system of democracy work for you, why would there be such a fight for you not to vote? Why would there be voting suppression laws dated back as far as 1850? Lasty, why are there tactics implemented to suppress peoples right to vote presently? If our vote meant absolutely nothing, there would be no effort put forth to make sure people weren’t at the polls every election day.

By Queen, AFROPUNK Contributor


For much of United States history to have this right, voting for officials into office, and running for office, was extremely limited. During the the Reconstructive period, a brief time after the Civil War in which free slaves had earned the right to vote and hold office, and the 15th amendment of the constitution extended the right to vote regardless of “race, color or previous condition of servitude”, many conservatives in southern states weren’t open to the black population voting (History of Voter Suppression in the U.S) In 1877 is when many laws began to be written to suppress the black vote. These were Jim Crow voting laws, that required literacy test that were difficult for former, non-formally educated slaves to pass. Some states had very high poll taxes that made it close to impossible for many of the Black population and even poor Whites to afford. Which definitely made the right to vote seem less appealing. In addition to these laws, many White Americans would hold “White Only” primary elections in parts of town that Black people weren’t allowed into. Attempts to break these laws were punishable by death, and other horrific crimes. According to HowStuffWorks.com the intimidation and suppression stratgies were so effective only 3% of the southern Black population in the Uniited States were registered to vote in 1940. In fact, it wasn’t until the voting rights act of 1965, in which the federal government eradicated Jim Crow Laws. Unfortunately the 1960 ‘s was not the end for voter suppression especially among the black population with in the United States.


This fall alone Republican dominated states from Arkansas to North Carolina, Texas, to Wisconsin to Ohio have applied many voting restrictions. The U.S Supreme Court recently let one of the most restrictive voting laws pass in North Carolina, which extremely limits the forms of identification people may use to register to vote. As told by Daily KOS the identification requirements are so severe that most Black people, Women and democrats will be unable to register. “An analysis of data from the state Board of Elections by Democracy North Carolina revealed that Blacks, women, and Democrats are disproportionately likely to lack one of the acceptable forms of ID, while whites, men, and Republicans are disproportionately likely to possess one of them(Daily KOS).” Ohio passed laws that allowed residents to vote earlier than election day. This was to divert the embarrassing long lines, and delay of votes in the state during the 2004 election. Yet, what theses laws did was give people ample time to vote. “. . . .measures that ensured relatively smooth sailing on Election Day in 2008. What was their problem with what happened in Ohio in 2008? Barack Obama won, and those new laws helped him win by getting too many of the, ahem, “wrong” sort voting(Daily KOS) .” To derail this from happening again, in 2010 Republican John Kasich became governor, Jon Husted became secretary of state, and their party took over the legislature. They immediately set about undoing these laws. Before 2008 early voters where typically middle class, wealthy, and much older. These were the people that typically knew about early voting, but that changed during Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign in 2008. Over the past two years alone there have been 30 states which have introduce legislation or plan to execute laws that will limit many peoples right to vote. That’s more than half of the states in the nation. Definitely too many laws and states to type, so I have included a link with all the states and laws that have either been implemented or still are in the process of being implemented to suppress peoples right to vote. FairElectionsNetwork.com


I will close this like I close many of the pieces I write. All of this information is readily available to you , and it is also our duty to spread this information. Awareness is the first step in addressing any problem. Sharing articles like this and others similar to this will help immensely. Another great additive is throwing away the notion that voting doesn’t count or doesn’t work. If it didn’t work, and wasn’t a key element of this whole democracy process, voter suppression wouldn’t exist, yet it does. Making people believe that voting doesn’t work is the largest act of voter suppression through the nation.

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