Key Takeaways From Voter Suppression In 2020 By William Wilder, Published By The Brennan Center For Justice

Key Takeaways From Voter Suppression In 2020 By William Wilder, Published By The Brennan Center For Justice

By J. Arthur Smith, III


“In the 2020 election cycle, voter suppression was alive and well. Overall, 70.9 percent of eligible white voters cast ballots in 2020 elections, compared with only 58.4 percent of non-white voters. . . After the 2010 elections, for the first time since the peak of the Jim Crow era, states across the country began to enact laws making it more difficult for certain segments of population to vote. This wave of voter suppression was intertwined with race and the nation’s changing racial demographics and was, in least in part, backlash against rising turnout among communities of color contributing to the election of the nation’s first Black president. Efforts to suppress the votes of communities of color accelerated in 2013, when the Supreme Court gutted a key part of the  Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013). In the eight years since Shelby  County was decided, especially in 2020, these trends continued.” (p. 3) 

In Shelby County v. Holder, supra, the United States Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the formula for the selection of states to be covered by § 4(b) of the Voting Rights  Act of 1965. As a result, § 5 was immobilized. Sections 4(b) and 5 required pre-clearance federal approval of changes in voting laws in the covered jurisdictions. Under the Act, “a change will be  approved unless Department of Justice finds it has the purpose [or]. . . the effect of denying or  abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.” 

“Racial discrimination voting takes many forms, ranging from blatant and open attempts to restrict access to voting among communities of color to more subtle policies that place heavier

burdens on certain communities. In 2020, voters of color faced a full spectrum of racial voter  suppression.” (p. 3) 

“. . .the public officials and political operatives behind these voting changes are  acknowledging that the intent of the new laws and policies is to exclude certain people from the  electorate and bring about particular outcomes in elections.” (p. 3) 

“When defending two of Arizona’s restrictive voting laws before the United States  Supreme Court on March 2021, the attorney for the Republican National Committee admitted that  the party’s interest in the laws was to avoid being at a “competitive disadvantage relative to  Democrats.” And when discussing proposals to expand access to mail voting, former President  Trump stated that an expansion of early and mail voting would lead to “levels of voting that if you agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” (p. 3). Similarly, Senator  Lindsey Graham stated that if “Republicans don’t challenge and change the U.S. election system  there will never be another Republican president elected again.”

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