Voter Suppression In America

Published: July 12, 2021

There are 2 kinds of GOP bills …

Overview and Synopsis

Is the United States a contradiction unto its self? The land of the brave, and the home of the free, and the American Dream. The founding principles that embrace the ideology of liberty and equal opportunity are built on the methodical omission and suppression of people of color. From the beginning, this countries laws and policies that guide the process are designed to keep people of color from fully partaking in society.

Thus, the legal construction is not some relic of the past of Jim Crow laws but is the fabric of American policymaking. Throughout the centuries, the struggle to prohibit the most disgusting forms of exclusion and suppression has not eradicated itself from structural racism of people of color. The great American experiment is always on display to the world, but its actions are, are hypocritical in its practice of freedom for all.

The concept of democracy is distorted in such a way that concentrates its power and influences on people who are oppressed and not given the same rights as whites. According to the Center for American Progress, in 2016, 9.5 million American adults of color could not exercise their most precious right of voting. This lack of ability to completely participate in the democratic process translates into the lack of political power to elect candidates that share their values. Thus, people of color continue to endure discrimination in the electoral process, 150 years after abolishing slavery.

This report explores how politicians continue discriminatory policies and promote new ones baring people of color voting rights. The dismantling of long-term policies prohibiting the right to vote for people of color is long overdue 150 years.

People of Color Denied Voting Rights and Citizenship

The naturalization laws in the United States restricted national citizenship to free white people. At the same time, free black men, or enslaved black people who were some 85% of the black population from 1790-1860, could not vote anywhere in the United States. Even in the north, states like Pennsylvania, where the Quakers preached racial acceptance of blacks, who were rarely able to exercise their rights to vote for fear of retribution from whites, be it the KKK or other white supremacist groups.

Even after the slaves were set free from their masters, laws were enacted to keep them servitude and shackled, if not just mentally. Consequently, in 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court issue a decision in ‘Dred Scott v. Sandford that African Americans could not become citizens in the United States and thus have no protection under the law where they could exercise their rights to vote. Whereas, in 1865, virtually all white men were permitted to vote in a presidential election, while blacks were only allowed to vote in six states.

The challenge of the Civil War in the United States brought about the 14th and 15th amendments, which granted citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States. Thus, prohibiting disenfranchisement on race or the color of a person’s skin, the servitude conditions of the past. Thus, ushered in bills adopted and called the Enforcement Acts from 1870-1871, which criminalized the suppression of people’s right to vote. These laws broke the back of the KKK, and their terrorism of blacks preventing them from voting led to hundreds of arrests.

Moreover, these laws led to arrest, indictments, and convictions for those who sought to interfere with the rights of blacks to vote in America. By 1877, which the end of a period called Reconstruction, blacks were holding offices in all government areas, from clerks, school superintendents to congress and the senate.

The disappointed promise of Reconstruction

The end of the Civil War began an atonement, the annihilation of slavery as a legal institution, and gave African Americans for the first time a right to own property and get an education to develop political capital and power for the first time. With the federal government’s help, the south was reconstructed, such as building schools, banks, and hospitals for newly liberated African American families and protected from white nationalist terrorism. The government even implemented an extraordinary field Order No 15 that mandated the redistribution of approximately 400,000 acres of land seized from Confederate plantations for newly freed African American families.

This novel attempt to protect the human and civil rights of African Americans diminished after the 1870s. Thus, the resurgence of white supremacy or white nationalism resurfaced again with violence, occupational segregation, racial discrimination designed to place African Americans into a semipermanent status of second-class citizenship.

The cornerstone to all this was the systematic disenfranchisement and the suppression of the black voters.

Even as of today in the 21st century, lawmakers continue to abuse the rights of African Americans through voter suppression, and the Reconstruction only gave African Americans a glimpse of what America and its democracy could be. But the moment has passed and replaced with a new wave of white supremacy, suppression, violence, and disenfranchisement. Even as our nation has become more diverse, attention is given to expanding voting rights, nevertheless the methodical exclusion of people of color from the electoral participation and maintaining the status quo of a racially homogenous nation.

The Civil Rights Movement

1954 began the black activist that introduced the American civil rights movement that would guarantee that all Americans, irrespective of race, the pigment of skin, or creed, could implement the protection assured them in the U.S. Constitution. These leaders risked life and limb in a decade of struggle against discrimination, segregation, and voter suppression. Through peaceful protest, civil defiance, litigation, education, and fortitude, the movement succeeded in dismantling many institutions that persecuted people of color since the end of Reconstruction. The crowning jewel of the campaign was the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) which shepherded in a new period of democratic involvement.

The VRA is providing the federal government and the civil rights leaders with the mandate and tools needed to break the control of Jim Crow and the assurance that all Americans could do exercises the fundamental right to vote. Here is a biggie, section 5 in the VRA, which avoided states with an established record of unfair anti-minority election practices from enacting unfair voting policies. Under section 5, states were obliged to seek consent from the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court before creating any changes to election processes or voting procedures.

Now the VRA expanded the right of entry toward the ballot box for hundreds of thousands of voters of color; from 1965 all through 1988 alone, the number of African American citizens registered to vote in places like Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana more than doubled. The experience in Mississippi with more tenfold increases in African American voter registration during this period increased the access to voting translated into more African American legislators across all levels of government. In one decade, from 1970-1980, the total number of African Americans who vote for representatives in the United States increased, from just 1,469 to 4,912.

The Resurgence of Voter Suppression

2012 was the first time in American history that African Americans exceeded the votes of white citizens here in America. However, this was followed by two shattering U.S. Supreme Court rulings that reduced core voting rights safeguards and threatened to undo decades of progress toward a vibrant democracy.  These rulings and the combination of decades of old voter suppression and disenfranchisements policies now threatened the vital right to vote for millions of Americans.

In 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the matter of Shelby County v. Holder was gutted, and Section 5 of the VRA no longer had teeth; the Court ruled the method to decide covered states was unconstitutional. Meaning without a coverage formula, Section 5 is essentially unenforceable. States who had a history of overt white supremacy and voter suppression can once again sway their voting policies and practices without first obtaining approval from federal officials.

The reaction to Shelby was predictable and swiftly moved throughout various states, and policy changes occurred to impose strict voter ID requirements for African Americans. According to the NAACP, the ID requirement disproportionately held by whites and excluded those used by African Americans led to the suppression of thousands of African American votes due to the ID requirement. This law threatened to suppress thousands of African American votes and abolished after another ruling by a federal court Acknowledge North Carolina ruling stated the prior decision sought to focus on blacks with almost invasive precision, which led to along with ID requirements, polling places were closed, and limited access to early voting.

Voter suppression does not stop with blacks; Native American voters receive the same treatment. In North Dakota, for instance, Selby v. Holder applied to depress the voting rights of Native Americans by requiring them to have a valid address on their ID. Native Americans lived on reservations who had no residential address to put on ID cards. Therefore, 1-5 Native Americans were affected by this law. In reply, the Native American Rights Fund, in conjunction with other local organizations, coordinated the requirement of tribal documents containing residential street addresses so every eligible citizen could vote on election day. In the 21st century, states use old tactics to suppress people of color’s rights to vote and use the courts to make it difficult for non-whites to vote.

In 2017, in this period, Native Americans, Latinos, and Blacks were more likely than whites to experience racial discrimination when trying to use their constitutional rights of voting.

Other Methods to Suppress Non-White Voters

Today it is undeniable that progress made in the area of voters’ rights applied is encouraging. Nevertheless, the fight in this area is still ever-present other tactics are used to deny people of color their opportunity to vote, such as felony disenfranchisement. So, this tool from the Jim Crow era successfully eliminates 6.1 million Americans from voting. For example, the war on drugs disproportionally targeted people of color and incarcerated them, magnifying felony disenfranchisement nationwide.

Another clever method to suppress the votes of non-whites is the denial of full suffrage for the residence of Washington, D.C., and other U.S. territories do not have the authority to vote in any election. Annually millions of Americans serving in the armed forces, diplomats, expatriates who live abroad vote in their respective hometowns using absentee ballots. However, Americans living in Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa can not vote for elected officials. Hence, Washington citizens pay taxes, serve in the armed forces, have one electoral vote and voting power on the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. Moreover, 3.4 million Americans, primary people of color, cannot vote due to their citizenship in Washington, D.C., or any U.S. territory.

Over the years, policymakers have analyzed the limits on how far they can prevent people of color from going to the polls. Later, in 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court once again gave voter suppression a pass when ruling on Husted v. A. Phillip Randolph Institute, where states were permitted to toss eligible voters of the member of the electorate rolls because they decided to skip some elections. This ruling upheld an Ohio decision to purge 846,000 disproportionately African American voters from its rolls for occasional voting over six years; the Husted decision opened the door to remove millions of African Americans from the voting rolls.


Consequently, the suppression of people of color has gone on since the ending of the Civil War. Legislators use a variety of tactics to legitimize the voting rights of people of color. The NAACP, formed in 1909, has been at the forefront of protecting individual’s civil rights and challenged many cases in courts regarding the civil liberties of all people. Although Jim Crow laws, for the most part, ended in 1965 with the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which prohibits discrimination in voting.

White supremacy is vibrant today as it was before emancipating slavery. As A Result, the breach of the nation’s capital on January 6, 2021is a perfect example of the lie that what one saw with their eyes is perpetrated as a peaceful rally on the nation’s capital. Lives were lost because Donald J. Trump refuses to admit defeat in the election and render a peaceful deliverance to power to the current administration.

White supremacists gladly took up arms to interrupt this counting of votes, the certification of the fairness of the presidential election, and no fraud. Trump supporters fed the lie that the election rigged and President Bidden stole the election, which there can be no further truth. Thus every Court that heard this false accusation has ruled against the Trump administration. Whereby the Courts ruled against the motion that the election was tainted and fraud had occurred.

So, where do we go from here? So here is a novel ending question. Why is it that the very policymakers under attack do not want a commission to find the truth on why the resurrection occurred and who was at fault or incited it?

I want to learn from you what you think of white supremacy and entrepreneurship. Make your responses on the comment section of our blog, and above all, be safe and watch the crazies, for they are everywhere.

About the author:

Dr. Mitchell works as a Small Business Consultant specializing in alternative financing, digital transformation, and digital marketing. He has offices in Southfield, MI,
Chicago, IL. His primary focus is on small business organizations.


 The founding principles that embrace the ideology of liberty and equal opportunity are built on the methodical omission and suppression of people of color, found in the works of Danyelle Solomon, Connor Maxwell, and Abril Castro August 7, 2019, located in their work of Center for American Progress.

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