Voter suppression has long been a strategy to influence the outcome of elections by discouraging or preventing people from voting. This was certainly the case in 2016, helping to hand the White House to Trump. In today's civic workout, you're going to learn more about what voter suppression is and how it works, and you're going to work those civic muscles by taking action against it.
Warm up by reading this Washington Post article, which demonstrates that voter suppression does exist and that it’s highly effective at targeting and disenfranchising voters. Then play the Voter Suppression Trail!
One of the most common voter suppression tactics used by Republicans to sway elections is to enact discriminatory voter ID laws. Before 2006, no state required photo ID to vote. Today, 10 states require it and a total of 33 states have some version of a voter ID rule.
Your 10 minute workout is to learn more about how voter ID laws actually suppress votes. Amp up your impact by posting a new fact on social media, and tagging us at @mycivicworkout.
In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act (VRA) to curb the discriminatory practices that evolved in states to prevent mainly African Americans from voting. Unfortunately, the VRA was hobbled in a 2013 Supreme Court decision. Since then, an increasing number of states have proposed and enacted laws promoting voter suppression, ranging from early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions.
Using this handy map from ThinkProgress, figure out what specific strategies are being used to attack voting rights in your state. Then, write a letter to the editor of your local paper that shares your findings and calls upon your state legislators to promote voting rights for all citizens, in keeping with the 15th Amendment guarantee against racial discrimination in voting.
Guess what? The letter to the editor you just wrote can also be used a script for phoning your state legislators and asking them to take action against voter suppression in your state.
Does this issue speak to you? Get involved!
Many organizations are working to combat voter suppression, including traditional civil rights organizations like the NAACP and the ACLU. Other, smaller, groups have taken it on as well. Let America Vote is a new organization with a specific mandate to push back on voter suppression laws, while Vote Riders works to educate folks on their right to vote.
As Philip Bump describes, voter suppression is as old as the emancipation of black people and has historically been used to prevent African Americans from voting, especially in the South. The article begins:
In August 1922, the Topeka State Journal reported on an unusual voter suppression tactic. Members of the Ku Klux Klan reportedly flew over Oklahoma City, dropping cards into black neighborhoods, warning people to be cautious before heading to the polls.
The only thing that’s really hard to believe about this is that the Klan used airplanes to deliver the message.