What is Voter Suppression and How Does it Affect Us?


Photo courtesy of Mr. Wood. An American flag made by Brennan Poskitt in Wood Tech 3.

What is Voter Suppression? Voter Suppression is defined as “Any legal or extralegal measure or strategy whose purpose or practical effect is to reduce voting, or registering to vote, by members of a targeted racial group, political party, or religious community (Britannica).”  

The most common victims of Voter Suppression in the United States are African American Voters. African American and minority voters were pivotal voters in the 2020/21 election. Black and minority voters helped Joe Biden secure the White House as well as secure the majority in the Senate for Democrats in the 2021 Georgia Senate Runoffs. 

Voter Suppression has been practiced in the United States back since the 19th century. The 14th and 15th Amendments played a major factor for African American voters when a Republican Congress passed a bill allowing African Americans to become United States citizens. Meanwhile, Democrats in the South were growing less fond of the idea of allowing Black Americans to become citizens and eventually vote.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 greatly increased the amount of voter registration amongst black voters in the United States. Since the party switch of the 20th century, Republicans wanted to ensure the integrity of the electoral process by preventing widespread voter fraud, which the Democrats have denounced. 

The main purpose of these Voter Restriction Laws is so that Republican Officials can maintain their position in office, regain seats in both the House and the Senate and restrict the number of people that can get out and vote. Voter Suppression has been a consistent topic of debate for decades in congress but, now, Voter Suppression is a more significant topic than ever due to the recent events in Georgia. 

On March 1st, 2021 the Georgia House of Representatives passed legislation that will eventually seek to put a limitation on absentee and early voting in the state of Georgia. The vote was 97 in approval of the legislation and 72 in disapproval of the legislation. If this legislation is passed by the upper chamber, voters would be required to submit a driver’s license number, state identification card number, or photocopy of an approved form of identification to vote absentee in the state. According to The Hill, this legislation prohibits counties from holding advance voting on Sundays and limits early-voting to one specific Sunday, which Black churches in the state have used to increase voter participation in notable elections. 

Republicans in Georgia and all across the country claim that these bills are for increased election security and to create more confidence in the electoral process. Democrats in the State believe that this is a direct shot at Black Voters in the state because they believe that this legislation is making it more difficult for black and minority voters to get out to the polls early. Democratic Senators in Washington believe that this course of action was a direct attack on our beloved democracy. 

March 4th, 2021 was a major step toward combating voter suppression for our country when the United States House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would ‘stop voter suppression.’ This bill received total Republican opposition but, because Democrats control the House,, the bill was unanimously passed by Democratic lawmakers in Washington. 

According to The Guardian, this bill would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts and limit the manipulation of physical boundaries in electoral districts for political gain. The legislation also requires states to offer early, same-day, automatic voting, in addition to online voter registration. 

This bill also mandates that states allow voters to vote by mail if they desire. President Joseph R. Biden stated, “The right to vote is sacred and fundamental…This landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect that right, to safeguard the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen our democracy.” Although Democrats maintain the majority in the Senate, this bill would most likely not pass because this legislation would have to pick up 10 Republican votes. 

As of March 7th, 2021 Republican Lawmakers in 43 out of the 50 states have introduced legislation to restrict early vote ballot access. The busiest states when it comes to Voter Restriction Legislation are key battleground states such as Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Nevada. These Voter Restriction Bills are facing an uncertain future in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina due to the fact Republicans control both the State House and Senate but do not control the governor’s mansion. On the other hand, some states maintain control of all 3 branches which would allow them to pass these bills without the worry of a veto from a Democratic governor.