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The right to vote as a U.S. citizen is not guaranteed by the Constitution.
And two new books highlight how the right to vote in America is under attack.
Efforts to reduce voter turnout and voter access are not recent and they’ve long been racialized. Author and Emory University professor Carol Anderson points to the election in 2000 as one of the more egregious examples.
A recent article by her in The Guardian says:
The 21st century is, in fact, littered with the bodies of black votes. In the 2000 presidential election, which George W Bush won in the sunshine state by 537 ballots, Florida kept African Americans from the polls or ensured that their votes would never be added to the state’s tally. The policing was multi-tentacled. On election day, there were faulty voting machines, purged voter rolls (purges that targeted minorities) and locked gates at polling places that should have been opened. There was also a Florida Highway Patrol checkpoint at the only road leading to the polls in key, heavily black precincts in Jacksonville. Then there were the piles of ballots, especially in counties with large minority populations, left uncounted. The US Civil Rights Commission “concluded that, of the 179,855 ballots invalidated by Florida officials, 53% were cast by black voters. In Florida,” the commission’s report continued, “a black citizen was 10 times as likely to have a vote rejected as a white voter.”
Author and historian Lichtman says these maneuvers are drawn along party lines. Here he is, speaking to Vox:
…these rules divide along party lines. The Republican Party knows that their base is white, Christian, older men, which is the most shrinking part of the American electorate. Whereas the Democratic base tends to be among minorities, young people, nonreligious people, which are the most accelerating demographics in the American electorate.
Republicans can’t manufacture more old white Christian men, but they can attempt to limit the voting of the Democratic Party base. That’s why voter suppression efforts have escalated so much in recent years, and it’s why we’re now in a period of backsliding.
Anderson’s new book is called “One Person, No Vote.” Lichtman’s is “The Embattled Vote In America.”
What’s the status on voter suppression efforts across the country? What can we do to protect the right to vote?
Produced by Stef Collett. Text by Gabrielle Healy.
- Carol Anderson Professor of African-American Studies, Emory University; author, "One Person, No Vote"; @ProfCAnderson
- Allan Lichtman Distinguished professor of history, American University; author, "The Embattled Vote in America" @AllanLichtman
- Sean Young Legal Director, the ACLU of Georgia; @Sean_J_Young
Excerpt From Allan Lichtman's "The Embattled Vote In America"
Excerpt From Carol Anderson's "One Person, No Vote"
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