Voter Suppression: Its Lengthy and Damaging History


Katherine Jensen

A potential victim of voter suppression.

Kage Blakeney, Journalist

Voter suppression is a danger that affects all voters, old and new. It is an act used by political party members in an attempt to either use fear, fake documentation, destroying documentation, invalidation of votes, and force through fines and fees to try and make voters of the opposite party either not vote or make their vote not count. This illegal act has, sadly, been around since the end of the Civil War.

In 1870, Dixiecrats (Conservative Democrats) ” Began to impose a series of laws in 1877 designed to suppress the black vote (HowStuffWorks, Roos).” Most of us know these as the Jim Crow Laws. These laws continued throughout the 1800s and the early 1900s. All of the intimidation and the suppression was so successful that only 3% of eligible African-American voters were registered in the 1940s. Women gained their right to vote within the 19 Amendment in 1920. It was only until 1965 that the U.S. government fully eradicated the Jim Crow Laws in the South. The poll taxes used in the Jim Crow era were still in effect until 1966. Even then, with all the laws that have been passed to stop voter suppression from happening, there are those people who still find ways to break the system, and some of them are part of the system.

In the 1980’s the Republican National Committee had created the National Ballot Security Task Force, which was ” staffed by off-duty police officers armed with loaded service revolvers and wearing blue armbands, was sued for steering black voters away from polling stations in New Jersey and forced to disband(HowStuffWorks, Roos).” Another tactic used is disinformation, in which people give fake information to either draw people away from the correct voting ballots or to stop them from voting at all. “In the 2008 elections, Democrats in Nevada received robocalls informing them that they could vote on November 5 — a day after the election — to avoid long lines. Hispanic voters in Nevada received similar messages saying that they could vote by phone. Voters in Lake County, Ohio, received official-looking mail stating that voters who had registered to vote through Democratic-leaning organizations would be barred from the 2008 election (HowStuffWorks, Roos).”

Along with that, red states are attempting to pass more laws that restrict Americans from voting, such as having proof of residency, proof of citizenship, and/or a photo I.D. on hand. Florida Republicans were attempting to restrict felons the right to vote (again) but failed to do so, giving 1.4 million felons  back their right to vote. Surprisingly, most of these voter suppression tactics are only used against minorities, felons, and Democrats. There is hardly any evidence of voter suppression against Republicans, and it seems as though most of these voter suppression tactics are carried out by the Republican Party or those affiliated with them.

The Presidential Primaries, Senator Primaries, and our Proposition 13 voting will be on March 3rd, so check your local listings and be wary of any voting forms or calls that don’t seem to be official. The voting area for our area will be our school, University Preparatory, so make sure to come and vote!