Civil Rights Lawyer Sums up the Struggle for Suffrage in the 21st Century in 60 Seconds
Voter suppression affects election outcomes far more than voter fraud, despite Donald Trump's perpetuation of the far-right conspiracy theory that millions of people voted illegally in the presidential election. And since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, voter suppression has become one of the Republican Party's most dangerous weapons.
"SCOTUS invalidated provisions of the Voting Rights Act that required U.S. Justice Department review of election law changes," wrote Gabrielle Gurley in the the American Prospect. "North Carolina was especially adept in manipulating the building blocks of suppression through redistricting, racial gerrymandering, and unprecedented election law changes."
With Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, a legislator who has called the Voting Rights Act "intrusive," the struggle for suffrage—the right to vote—will only be amplified.
[Voter suppression] is baked into [America's] DNA," Myrna PÃ©rez, a civil rights lawyer and Democracy Program deputy director at the Brennan Center for Justice, explained at a Brookings-hosted Governance Studies panel on January 11.
"But it became a very big flash point after 2010 when we saw a wave of restrictive legislation just almost out of nowhere blanket the country," she continued. "We saw states trying to cut back early voting, states trying to end election day registration, states imposing strict person citizenship legislation, and then a lot of strict photo ID laws which tend to take up most of the oxygen."
Since the 2010 midterm election, hundreds of measures have been introduced to severely limit voting in nearly two dozen states. In 14 of these states, this directly impacted the 2012 presidential election.
"Going into 2016, not only did we not have the Voting Rights Act," argued Perez, "we had 14 states in which the Americans in those states found it harder to vote than they had found it in the prior presidential election."