The Real Fraud of 2016 Election: GOP Voter Suppression

by Vins
Published: Updated:

In the 2013 case Holder v. Shelby County, the Supreme Court struck down sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This decision meant that states with a long history of voter suppression are no longer subject to federal government approval to changes in their voting laws. It also made 2016 the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections guaranteed by the VRA. 14 states, including many southern states and key swing states, put new voting restrictions into place in 2016—just in time for the election.

The landmark Voting Rights Act was established to end racist gerrymandering, literacy tests, and poll taxes that were used to suppress African-American voting during the Jim Crow era. The gutting of this act and the failure of the Republican-controlled Congress to restore it has resulted in more voter discrimination now than at any point in the past 50 years.

The effects were immediate: Texas implemented a photo-ID law that produced one of the worst voter turnouts in the country. North Carolina voter-ID requirement only allowed for a few acceptable forms of identification. According to data from the state board of elections, over 300,000 registered voters in North Carolina lacked even one of those accepted forms of ID. Arizona made changes to its voting laws that the Department of Justice had previously rejected due to minority voter discrimination. Florida converted to English-only elections in many counties, and also changed poll locations at the last minute.

The GOP masks these blatantly discriminatory practices as ways to prevent voter fraud, claiming that we living in a “post-racial” society where Voting Rights Act protections are no longer necessary. This argument is thinly veiled and dangerous.

Although independent publications like Rolling Stone and the Guardian have covered the impacts of the significantly weakened Voting Rights Act, the establishment press has not covered the full extent of this change. The issue did not surface once during the 26 presidential debates that took place prior to the election. Hours of television coverage were spent focused on Trump’s antics and outrageous tweets while no time was spent covering the real threat to voters that was the gutting of the Voting Rights Act.

Sources:

Ari Berman, “Welcome to the First Presidential Election Since Voting Rights Act Gutted,” Rolling Stone, June 23, 2016. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/welcome-to-the-first-presidential-election-since-voting-rights-act-gutted-20160623.

Sarah Harvard, “How Did the ‘Shelby County v. Holder’ Supreme Court Decision Change Voting Rights Laws?,” mic.com, July 29, 2016, https://mic.com/articles/150092/how-did-the-shelby-county-v-holder-supreme-court-decision-change-voting-rights-laws#.fNCmf3Wys

Ari Berman, “This Election Is Being Rigged- but Not by Democrats,” Nation, October 17, 2016. https://www.thenation.com/article/this-election-is-being-rigged/.

AJ Vicens, “John Roberts Gutted the Voting Rights Act. Jeff Sessions is Poised to Finish It Off,” Mother Jones, November 28, 2016, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/11/voting-rights-act-whats-to-come-jeff-sessions-trump.

Ari Berman, “GOP Voter Suppression and the Trump Win,” Moyers & Company, December 28, 2016, http://billmoyers.com/story/overlooked-reported-ignored-stories-2016/.

Student Researcher: Kätchen McElwain (University of Vermont)

Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)