The fight for the basic right to vote has been among the most enduring struggles of Black people in America. From poll taxes to literacy tests and grandfather clauses, the methods used to bar Black voters from the ballot box goes back over a century.
Even progress toward the goal for other once-disenfranchised groups has left Black Americans behind. For example, when women were given the right to vote in August 1920 by the 19th Amendment, Black women were excluded. Most Black women didn’t vote for the first time until the 1960s when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, following a brutal battle for civil rights.
Now, almost 60 years later, the most basic right in our democracy is once again under threat for Black Americans. In 2020, at least 19 states passed 34 laws restricting access to voting. Closing polling places, enhancing ID requirements, limiting early-voting windows and mail-in ballots are just a few of the present-day tactics being used to make voting more difficult for Black communities. These changes have been made under the guise of preventing election fraud – a threat that many experts say is “practically non-existent.”
Looking ahead to election season, voting rights experts believe that efforts to restrict voting will continue. Here is some suggested reading on some voting rights issues that Capital B will be following.
What to read
Is There a Future for Voting Rights Reform? In this New Yorker Q&A, Isaac Chotiner interviews voting rights expert Wendy Weiser on the latest voting rights news, including how to distinguish among different threats to fair elections.
When the Myth of Voter Fraud Comes for You: In this late 2021 piece from The Atlantic, Vann Newkirk tells the story of the real people, mostly people of color, accused of voter fraud.
Black and Latino Voters Have Been Shortchanged in Redistricting, Advocates and Some Judges Say: Colby Itkowitz and Harry Stevens of The Washington Post report on how redistricting efforts continue to disenfranchise Black and brown voters.
2 Secretaries of State Undercut Trump’s Fraud Claims in Key GOP-Controlled States. Republicans Have Now Voted to Strip Both of Power: In this June 2021 piece from The Washington Post, Aaron Blake reports on two secretaries of state who stood up to former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election and as a result were stripped of their power to enact new election restrictions.
Why Do Nonwhite Georgia Voters Have to Wait in Line for Hours? Their Numbers Have Soared, and Their Polling Places Have Dwindled: In this 2020 collaboration from ProPublica, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and National Public Radio, Stephen Fowler highlights how Georgia’s voter rolls had significantly grown, but polling locations had reduced, impacting Metro Atlanta voters most.