Challenges to black voting rights are rooted in Reconstruction, Jim Crow


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After a tumultuous election season, fueled by unfounded allegations of voter fraud, Republican lawmakers are working to rewrite voting laws in ways that would restrict access to the polls. Although House Democrats pushed a voting rights bill on Wednesday that would make voting easier, critics worry that Republican Party tactics could lead to voting suppression in ways dating back to Reconstruction. “On the one hand, you have concerns about fraud leading to restrictions on voting, and on the other hand, you have concerns about turnout that prompts you to focus on increasing access to the polls,” said Rebecca Green, a professor of law and co-director of William. The Mary Law School Election Law Program. Since the start of the year, Republican-controlled legislatures have introduced a series of restrictive voting procedures: • A Republican lawmaker in Arizona introduced a bill on February 2 that would require everyone to vote in person to be physically able and severely reduce the number of voting stations in some Provinces. • A bill was introduced in New Hampshire on January 18 that would allow election officials to remove voters from lists based on data provided by other states, a practice that federal courts have ruled violates the National Voter Registration Act. They fail to respond to a 30-day notice with proof of citizenship. • In Georgia, an old Republican stronghold that went blue in the November presidential election, House representatives approved a sweeping measure on Monday that would restrict the use of ballot boxes, make identity requirements for absentee voting more stringent and ban the distribution of food and water to those waiting in line to vote . The bill, to be submitted to the Senate, aims to limit early voting at weekends, which would stifle the “souls to the polls” campaign, a massive voter mobilization campaign among the state’s black churches. He said its purpose was to ensure that someone’s voice was not stolen. “It is our duty in this Legislative Council to constantly update our laws to try to protect the sanctity of voting,” the Republican said during a meeting on election integrity last month. For critics, the barrage of legislation dates back to the post-Reconstruction era when white lawmakers, threatened with a shift in political power, attempted to impede black voting with new laws designed to restrict access to the polls. “When you have a huge number of votes. Marion Orr, a professor of public policy at Brown University, said the turnout, as happened in this last election, the question becomes how do you suppress it.” Language in these new voting laws does not openly target a specific group of people, Orr said, but the laws’ ramifications disproportionately affect people of color. Voter suppression after Reconstruction After the Civil War, black men emerged from shackles and slavery with an unprecedented amount of political freedom, and the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, which granted black men the right to vote, led to a wave of black politicians. Over the next two decades, nearly 20 black men served in the US Congress – all of them in the southern states. More: The House of Representatives passed sweeping voting rights law. More: The Equality Act, which protects LGBTI + Americans, is up for a vote in the House of Representatives. What was this entry into national politics had a heavy price. White supremacist groups responded with violence and intimidation to keep blacks from the polls, and this new political participation and activism sparked a series of laws that stripped African Americans’ ability to vote for decades to come. “They saw all these black politicians and moved quickly to suppress this new voting power,” Orr said. During his inaugural speech at the Mississippi State Convention of 1890, where restrictions on voting rights for blacks were discussed for the first time, President Solomon S. Calhoun made no secret of words about the purpose of the gathering, stating, “We have come here to exclude the Negro.” “Nothing less than this will answer.” Mississippi passed laws requiring opinion tax and mandatory literacy tests. The state’s strategy of suppressing voters became the rule of the game for other Southern states. Arkansas, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and others followed the lead, with several states placing the grandfather clause as a loophole for white men who could not afford the poll tax or pass a literacy test. Under this clause, men whose fathers or grandparents were from voting prior to the Civil War were exempt from the stricter voting requirements. These new voting requirements have made it nearly impossible for black lawmakers to be elected, even in southern states with densely populated African Americans. George White of North Carolina, the last black congressman of the era, saw the writing on the wall before he left office in 1901. “This, Mr. President, may be the negroes’ temporary farewell to the US Congress, but let me say, like a phoenix, it will rise One day and come back again, ”White said in his final months in Congress. “These words of separation are on behalf of a person who is angry, broken-hearted, bruised and bleeding, but God-fearing people, believers, hardworking, sincere people – up-and-coming people, full of potential power.” After White’s departure, it was nearly 30 years before another black congressman set foot on the U.S. Capitol. And 70 years before the election of a black congressman from a southern state, these new laws eliminated black politicians, deprived black citizens of the right to vote, and required a federal law to vote in 1965 to address rampant racism and voter suppression. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 banned literacy tests and introduced federal oversight of voter registration in regions where less than 50% of non-white people registered to vote. The attack on voting rights protesters marching across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Alabama on March 7, 1965, was a factor in the passage of the law, and election experts say that a 2013 Supreme Court ruling, Shelby County v.Holder, corrupted the law with his release. States and municipalities with a history of racial discrimination are required to seek federal government approval to change their voting laws, said Bobby Hoffman, deputy director of the Democracy Division at the American Civil Liberties Union. Soon the states tightened voter identification requirements, curtailed early voting, expelled voters from voting lists and closed hundreds of polling sites. Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas introduced stricter requirements on voter identity. Florida and Virginia tried to purge thousands of people from their voter rolls, and within hours of Shelby’s decision against Holder, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who was the state’s attorney general at the time, announced stricter voting requirements. “With today’s decision, the state’s Voter Identity Act will take effect immediately,” Abbott said in a statement. “Redistricting maps approved by the legislature may enter into force without approval from the federal government.” Abbott’s actions and the surge in voting bill proposals are worrying lawmakers such as Rep. Colin Allred, a Democratic Representative from Texas, and a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I think what we’re seeing is the most dangerous attempt across the country to restrict rights. Some Americans will be voting since the Jim Crow days,” Allred said. Contact Javonti Anderson at [email protected] Twitter: JavonteA


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