The recent protests over George Floyd’s death and reactions of the conservatives against the protest laid bare the systemic injustice and oppression faced by the people of color in the USA.
The other, albeit invisible form of discrimination perpetuated by the conservative political establishment in the USA is “Minority Voter Suppression”.
The major piece of legislation which protected minorities from electoral exploitation was the Voter Registration Act which underpins the basic ideal of a universal adult franchise by specifically addressing and combating voting discrimination.
To ensure the representation to minority communities, this act mandated that “At-Large Elections”, where the whole of the jurisdiction elects all of the city council, were replaced by the single member districts in which each community selects a person to represent them in the city council.
It was also prohibited to draw the voting district in such a way that minorities could be clubbed in only a few of the districts. It was also made mandatory for those states which have a history of discrimination to get pre-clearance from the justice department before changing their voting laws.
This law, however, lost its power in a process which began in 1980. In 1980 the Supreme Court ruled that at-large elections were not unconstitutional, on their own. In 1995, the Court began restricting the construction of majority minority districts on grounds that it segregates people on the basis of race.
In 2008, the court ruled that a photo voter ID law in Indiana was constitutional and was in state interest to protect against voter fraud (research shows that photo voter IDs provide disincentive to vote for people of color). The voter ID law requires the voters to have a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot.
In 2013, the Supreme Court scrapped the part of the law which stated that some states (which had an alleged history of discrimination) needed federal preclearance in any changes of their voting laws, meaning that the state laws would need approval from the federal government before being put into practice. This was done so citing that the methods which determined discriminatory states were invalid.
All of these slowly chipped away at the laws, and especially the 2013 Shelby County vs Holder case which led to a host of issues whVoter Suppression is Still One of the Greatest Obstacles to a More Just Americaich directly/indirectly keep a significant proportion of minorities from voting. Few of such actions are closure or relocation of precincts in majority black areas, purge of minority voters from the voter lists, and elimination of Sunday early voting days which are preferred by black voters.
There have been attempts to restrict registration drives in Tennessee on the basis that many of the forms were incomplete.
There have also been laws enacted which needed people to participate regularly in elections to keep their voting rights and reply to a letter sent to their residence, which makes it difficult for Black and Hispanics due to obscure areas and the fact that they’re half as likely than other people to get a day off work to vote.
The governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, has been accused of using intimidation tactics to scare minority communities.
In Texas, the acting secretary of state said that he had a list of 95,000 non-citizens who were registered for voting in the state, and 58,000 of them had already cast a vote. That claim was proven untrue when it was noted that there were tens of thousands of people who were naturalized citizens.
In many states, felons are not allowed to vote even after they have served their sentence, and in Florida felons are allowed to vote only if they have paid an array of fees after serving their sentence, which sets an economic bar on their ability to vote.
This is evident that forces working against the equal rights for the minority communities are still working at full force to reverse the gains of civil right movements. The fight for the unhindered voting rights for the minority communities in the USA at the social, political, and judicial front will continue in the foreseeable future.