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Fri Mar 5, 2021, 11:19 AM

Challenges to Black voting rights rooted in Reconstruction

Challenges to Black voting rights harks back to Jim Crow era

Javonte Anderson

After a turbulent election season, fueled by unfounded allegations of voter fraud, Republican lawmakers are laboring to rewrite voting laws in ways that would restrict access to the polls. Though House Democrats pushed through a voting rights bill Wednesday that would make voting more accessible, critics worry about GOP tactics could suppress the vote in ways that hearken back to Reconstruction.

"On one side, you have concerns about fraud prompting restrictions on voting, and on the other side, you have concerns about turnout prompting a focus on greater access to the polls," said Rebecca Green, a law professor and co-director of William and Mary Law School's Election Law Program.

Since the beginning of the year, Republican-controlled legislatures have introduced a cascade of restrictive voting measures:

ĽAn Arizona Republican legislator introduced a bill Feb. 2 that would mandate everyone vote in person who is physically able and severely reduce the number of voting centers in some counties.

ĽA New Hampshire bill introduced Jan. 18 would permit election officials to remove voters from rolls based on data provided by other states, a practice federal courts ruled violates the National Voter Registration Act.


"When you have a huge turnout, as we had in this last election, the question becomes how do you suppress that turnout," said Marion Orr, a public policy professor at Brown University.

The language in these new voting laws does not openly target a specific group of people, but the laws' implications disproportionately impact people of color, Orr said. ..........(more)


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