Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right
Martin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls.
Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.
“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time.
Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.