| By Traci Cothran |
You cannot be a student of history and fail to see that the voter suppression tactics used over the last 100 years are being re-weaponized in current elections. It is, quite simply, frightening to see this attack on a basic tenet of our democracy. These efforts at silencing American voices have been used by both the Democratic and Republican parties at different times to consolidate power. No one who believes in the longevity of this free republic should approve of unfair tactics; and elected officials should be the last people employing them. Here’s a look at voter suppression tactics practiced yesterday and today.
Voter Suppression, from 1776 through Reconstruction and Jim Crow Era:
- Poll taxes. See “Jim Crow and Voting Rights,” Gale In Context: U.S. History.
- Literacy tests. See “Literacy Test,” Gale In Context: High School.
- Land requirements. See “Voting,” Gale In Context: High School.
- Legislating that Indigenous people, people of Chinese descent, and people of Asian descent are ineligible to become citizens and thus denying them suffrage.
- See “Native Americans: Citizenship,” Gale In Context: High School.
- See also “Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882,” Gale In Context: U.S. History.
Voter Suppression, Modern Tactics:
- Gerrymandering. See “Gerrymandering and Redistricting” in Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints.
- Rescinding the requirement from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 of federal oversight before certain states or municipalities (with histories of voter suppression) can change voting laws. See “After Ruling, States Rush to Enact Voting Laws,” Gale In Context: High School.
- Defunding the U.S. Postal Service. See “Trump Confesses to Voter Suppression,” Washington Post, August 13, 2020, Gale In Context: High School.
- Creating and deploying fake ballot boxes. See “California’s ‘Fake’ Ballot Box Furor,” Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints.
- Requiring formerly incarcerated people to pay fines and fees before they can vote. See “In Reversal, Appeals Court Deals Blow to Felons’ Voting Rights in Florida,” Gale In Context: U.S. History.
- Disenfranchising people currently incarcerated, and also permanently prohibiting them from voting. See “Mississippi Case Challenges Lifetime Felon Voting Ban,” Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints.
- Refusing to act on measures to protect our elections from foreign interference. See “Mitch McConnell Just Made Sure Election Security Will Be Key Senate Campaign Issue,” Gale In Context: U.S. History.
- Strictly limiting the number of drop-off sites for absentee voting. See “A Battleground in Texas; Voter Suppression,” Gale In Context: High School.
- Limiting voting places, staff, and capacity so that citizens must wait for hours to cast their ballots. See “Here’s How to Fix the Stark Racial Disparities in Voting Times,” Gale In Context: Opposing Viewpoints.
- Enacting strict Voter ID laws/poll tax. See “Here’s How Much It Costs to Vote in States with Voter ID Laws,” Gale In Context: U.S. History.
I’m sorry to say there’s much more, from spreading disinformation about the security of voting by mail to talk of intimidation at polling places. If we are paying attention, we can learn from history how democracies fail. Ensuring we have free and democratic elections is a key way to preserve the nation we all care about so much.
Offer researchers more voter suppression information, request a trial to our Gale In Context student databases today!
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