Voter suppression is a targeted strategy to prevent or discourage people, especially people of color, from voting. It can be implemented through strict voter ID laws, voter roll purges, gerrymandering, felon disenfranchisement, and adding barriers to accessing the polls. The United States has a long and ugly history with voter suppression, and ending it is critical to defending a fair and thriving democracy.
Gutting the Voting Rights Act
In 2013, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was struck down by the Supreme Court. Section 5 required states and counties with a history of voter suppression to obtain approval by the U.S. Department of Justice before implementing any new changes to voting laws. Since section 5 has been struck down, states have acted to close polls, purge voter rolls, and implement strict ID laws and other barriers to voting without any oversight or accountability.
- In 2021, 33 states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 165 bills to restrict voting access, including bills to to limit mail voting access, impose stricter voter ID requirements, slash voter registration opportunities, and enable more aggressive voter roll purges. Georgia has implemented a particularly notorious bill that even bans volunteers from handing out water and snacks to voters in line.
- Southern states have closed nearly 1,200 polling centers since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, disproportionately in communities of color. Seven counties in Georgia now have only one polling place. Poll closures have led to long lines on Election Day; many voters reported waiting over 10 hours in line to cast their ballot in 2020.
New Federal Legislation
The John Lewis Voting Rights Act and For the People Act H.R.1 (FPA) are two federal bills that support voting reforms. Both passed the House in a previous session of Congress; FPA has been passed again in the House in 2021. The John Lewis Act would restore Section 5. FPA would expand and protect voting rights and reduce the influence of big money in politics.
Three Actions To Take NOW!
Express your support for the John Lewis & For the People Acts.
Register 5 people to vote in NY. Then register 5 people in a swing state!
Find your local polling center and sign up to become a poll monitor.