Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Using Microaggression Theory to Examine U.S. Voter Suppression Tactics

Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Using Microaggression Theory to Examine U.S. Voter Suppression Tactics

Article excerpt

While the 15th Amendment provided that no citizen shall be denied the right to vote based on 'race, color or previous servitude' (U.S. Constitution, 1870), it took almost a century for this fundamental right to become reality.

Historical data indicate state and local governments, particularly in the new South, implemented various tactics such as literacy tests, poll taxes, intimidation, and violence to prevent blacks and other minorities from voting. Active black voter registration attempts resulted in arrests, firings, beatings, and death threats despite the fact that, constitutionally, Blacks were part of the political framework. LeFlore (1972) contended that: "This fight for the rights of black people during this particular period was no less significant than the struggle of black people throughout our entire history in America for a place in the sun, for a rightful place in the sun" (para.10). Despite ssubsequent corrective legislative efforts such as the 2006 reauthorization of expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act were made, African Americans continue to face obstacles at voting polls. Presently, states currently enacting voter identification (ID) laws under the pretext of controlling voter fraud, although there is no concrete evidence that fraud actually takes place. For example, in Georgia, Secretary of State Cathy Cox stated that she could not recall one documented case of voter fraud relating to the impersonation of a registered voter at the polls during her ten-year tenure (Deposition of Cathy Cox, October 4, 2005). South Carolina State Attorney General David Wilson sought to justify the new ID laws by claiming that over 900 deceased voters might have been impersonated in recent elections, but managed to identify only six cases that supported his exaggerated claim (Broughton & Murty, 2015). The purpose of this paper is to examine the microaggressions related to current voter ID laws and to present tactics of minority disenfranchisement including voter caging, lying flyers, reprehensible robocalls, felon disenfranchisement, voter purges, menacing billboards, poll watchers, altering early voting times and methods, and challenging registration processes; many of which were adopted in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.

The Proliferation of Voter ID LAWS in the 21st Century

Voter ID laws were first passed in 2000, by Republican-led majority elections, in two states: Georgia and Indiana. These types of laws were subsequently implemented in 2008, following the U.S. Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling in Crawford v. Marion County, in Indiana. In April 2008, the court upheld Indiana's photo ID law stating: "The state interests...are both neutral and sufficiently strong.... The application of the statute to the vast majority of Indiana voters is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process" (Gilbert, 2015, p. 751). In other words, the court did not find sufficient evidence regarding how many people - seniors, low income citizens, ethnic minorities, or students - would be affected by the new requirements of government-issued ID (Rosenfeld & Sajo, 2012). Later, the pace of voter ID laws increased to the extent that thirty-six states passed them. By 2015, more than one-half of eligible constituents in the nation were affected (Brennan Center for Justice, 2014). According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (2016), there are thirty-three voter ID laws in force as of 2016. These laws are classified into four categories: (a) Strict Photo ID laws; (b) Strict Non-photo ID laws; (c) Non-strict Photo ID laws; and, (d) Non-strict Non-photo ID laws. Of these categories, the greatest problem is with the strict photo ID laws. Voters without acceptable ID in these "strict photo ID" states must vote on a provisional ballot and take additional steps, like returning to an election office within a stipulated period of time and present an acceptable identification document, for the provisional vote to be counted. …

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