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Updated: Jan 28

 

 

We all recognize voter suppression when polling places are closed, or additional ID restrictions are placed on voters, but it is often harder to recognize the worst offender in voter suppression, Gerrymandering. This has been the weapon of choice for the GOP over the past 20 years. This form of voter suppression allows voters to believe their vote counted, but if you are a democrat voting in a Gerrymandered Republican district, your vote makes no difference. By gaining control of state legislatures, the GOP has almost guaranteed a win in many states.

In the case of Wisconsin, Republicans used sophisticated computer models to redraw legislative districts by ”packing” as many Democrats into a small number of districts as possible, and “cracking” the remaining Democratic voters by splitting them into various other districts such that they would never constitute a majority. In the 2012 elections, after rigging the map, Wisconsin Republicans won only 48.6 percent of the vote statewide, yet captured 60 of 99 seats in the state assembly. Nationally, Republicans won 53 percent of the vote, but 72 percent of Congressional seats where they redrew the map.

 

 

 

Undoing these unfair practices must be the focus of our efforts.

 

Updated: Jan 28

 

In 1965 Congress passed the Voting Rights Act to eliminate suppression of minority votes. The act was effective for Fifty years, until the Republican led Congress of 2015 gutted the act by removing the provision that required states with a history of voter suppression to get Federal approval before implementing laws that affect voting.

 

2016 is the first election conducted since states have been free to legislate voter suppression laws without Federal review, and many have taken advantage of the opportunity. The makeup of state legislatures greatly favors Republicans. Republicans control 23 State governments compared to 14 for Democrats. The remaining 13 are mixed. In addition, the majority of Southern States that were subject to Federal review are all Republican.

 

Updated: Jan 28

 

North Carolina Right to Vote Rally

 

Dec 13 - Essence Magazine

In our latest op-ed, Rev. Dr. William Barber, II takes a deep dive into the major problem plaguing Black communities each election cycle.

Our most fundamental constitutional right in the United States of America is the right to vote. Voting in our democracy is so sacred that people in this country have marched, faced fire hoses and police batons, and even given their lives to win and protect access to the ballot box.

However, our victories in the fight for voting rights are under attack by Republicans from the halls of Congress to statehouses across the country. Voter suppression in the United States is not dead and our generation must take up the fight to stop it.

For decades, grandfather clauses, poll taxes, and literacy tests were enacted to disenfranchise Black voters. Today, voter suppression continues to hide behind the letter of the law. My home state of North Carolina has become ground zero for the fight against voter suppression in this country.

North Carolina Republicans launched efforts to restrict voter access in 2010 with photo ID laws, but were thwarted by our Democratic governor. However, the state GOP was able to gerrymander our districts along racial lines, leading to a GOP super-majority in the legislature and eventually a Republican governorship. This triggered a series of legislation that changed the face of the North Carolina electorate.