Voter Suppression: The Same Old Strategy

SCSJ recently represented the League of Women Voters of North Carolina, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and other plaintiffs in a federal hearing requesting a preliminary injunction to stop North Carolina’s Monster Voter Suppression Law. At this time we are waiting to hear back from the court on whether or not the law will be halted until a full trial can be conducted. In the meantime, voter suppression tactics are being used in North Carolina and beyond – primarily to impede the voting rights of people of color, students, the elderly, and the poor. How did we get here? Read on to find out.

Supreme Court Decision Leads To Voter Suppression

When the US Supreme Court gutted elements of the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina’s political leaders, using voter fraud as a smokescreen, were the first out of the gate to rush ALEC-influenced voter suppression laws into effect. They are relying on an old strategy of voter suppression to control the outcome of elections. [1,3,5,8,9]

Voter Suppression Today

Remember the old Jim Crow tactics? — Poll taxes, literacy tests, discrimination based on race and gender, voter intimidation. Today’s tactics are disturbingly familiar [2,4]:

  • Instituting a strict photo ID requirement. Some see this as a type of poll tax since even “free” IDs require documentation that may be cumbersome and costly to obtain for some.
  • Reducing early voting times and eliminating Sunday voting
  • Prohibiting ballots cast out of the “precinct-of-residence”
  • Eliminating same day registration
  • Eliminating a popular program to pre-register 16- and 17-year olds
  • Intimidation by empowering independent “election integrity” groups to monitor polling stations and challenge voter credentials
  • In addition, county BOE’s have set early voting sites to disadvantage city voters compared to their rural counterparts.

These changes are designed to disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters, women, students, single parents, and the poor.
Voter ID Graphic

What others are saying about Voter Suppression in NC:

  • “The GOP’s claims of defending ‘voter integrity’, ‘fairness’ and ‘uniformity’ are complete nonsense” — Jamelle Bouie, Slate [2]
  • “This is the worst voter suppression law we have seen since the days of Jim Crow. It is a full-on assault on the voting rights of minorities” — Rev. William Barber, President, North Carolina NAACP [3]
  • “I can’t believe we are seeing this day again….Dr. King would be having a fit.” — Rosanell Eaton, a 93-year-old African-American co-plaintiff, who recalls enduring a literacy test when she first registered to vote [7]
  • “It was, bar none, the worst legislative process I’ve ever been through.” – Rick Glazier, NC House of Representatives [7]

The fear tactics might be updated but the contemptible strategy is the same old thing.
We must respond by getting out the vote. When they take away our vote, they take away our voice.

Post based on a story from Steadfast NC with additions from SCSJ’s Shoshannah Sayers. Steadfast NC content used with permission.