Voter suppression in the United States

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Voter suppression in the United States
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Voter suppression in the United States concerns allegations about various efforts, legal and illegal, used to prevent eligible voters from exercising their right to vote. Where found, such voter suppression efforts vary by state, local government, precinct, and election.{{toclimit|3}}


Impediments to voter registration

Some laws and administrative practices have made it more difficult for people to register to vote. Florida enacted a deadline for the submission of voter registration forms in 2011, with penalties for late filing.NEWS, Deslatte, Aaron, Kathleen Haughney, Legislature passes broad overhaul of elections law, Orlando Sentinel, May 5, 2011,weblink 2011-07-16, The law ended the voter registration work by one organization, the League of Women Voters, whose spokesperson said, "Despite the fact that the League of Women Voters is one of the nation's most respected civic organizations, with a 91-year history of registering and educating voters, we will be unable to comply with the egregious provisions contained in [this bill]."NEWS, Deslatte, Aaron, Elections bill prompts League of Women Voters to stop registration, Orlando Sentinel, May 9, 2011,weblink 2011-07-16,weblink" title="">weblink August 2, 2011, yes,

Photo ID laws

{{See also|Voter ID laws (United States)}}In the United States, supporters of photo ID laws say that photographic IDs (such as driver's licenses or student IDs) are available and that presenting such IDs is a minor inconvenience when weighed against the possibility of ineligible voters affecting elections. Opponents argue that photo ID requirements disproportionately affect minority, handicapped and elderly voters who do not normally maintain driver's licenses. Also, requiring such groups to obtain and keep track of photo IDs that are otherwise unneeded is considered a suppression tactic aimed at those groups.WEB, Reilly, Ryan J, House Dems Slam 'Racist,' 'Rovian' Voter ID Laws; Says DOJ Isn't Doing Enough, Talking Points Memo, July 14, 2011,weblink 2011-07-16, For an elderly person who has not had a driver's license in years, the time and money to get one can be excessive, if it is even possible. Requiring photos IDs is not necessary to assure a fair and just election because the incidence of voter fraud is neglible.In one instance Indiana's photo ID law barred 12 retired nuns in South Bend, Indiana from voting in the state 2008 Democratic primary election, because they did not have photo IDs. John Borkowski, a South Bend lawyer volunteering as an election watchdog for the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said, "This law was passed supposedly to prevent and deter voter fraud, even though there was no real record of serious voter fraud in Indiana."NEWS, Retired nuns barred from voting in Indiana, May 7, 2008, McClatchy Newspapers,weblink London, May 27, 2010, NEWS, Voting Rights? Nun for You!, Editorial, The New York Times, May 6, 2008,weblink Proponents of a similar law proposed for Texas in March 2009 argued that photo identification was necessary to prevent widespread voter fraud. Opponents responded that there was no evidence of voter fraud in Texas, so no remedy is required. They said that the "remedy" would decrease voting by senior citizens, the disabled, and lower-income residents. Opponents also cited a study stating that 1 million of the state's 13.5 million registered voters do not have a photo ID.NEWS, Texas Senate sharply debates voter ID bill, March 11, 2009, Terrence, Stutz, The Dallas Morning News,weblink yes,weblink" title="">weblink January 15, 2010, State Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) said, "Voter fraud not only is alive and well in the U.S., but also alive and well in Texas. The danger of voter fraud threatens the integrity of the entire electoral process." Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) said the proposed law "is not about voter fraud. There is no voter fraud. This is about voter suppression." Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) spent $1.4 million investigating voter fraud and from 2002 to 2012 brought 311 accusations of voter fraud to the attorney general's office. Fifty seven cases have been resolved, and among these convictions were two cases of voter impersonation – arguably the type of fraud that photo ID laws would prevent.WEB, Greg Abbott claims 50 election fraud convictions since 2002,weblink 8 September 2012, WEB, List of trial outcomes for voter fraud in TX,weblink 8 September 2012, More than 8,000,000 votes were cast in Texas in the most recent presidential election.Legislation to impose photo ID requirements was prepared by the conservative organization ALEC and circulated to conservative state legislators.In 2011, more than 100 Democratic members of Congress urged the Department of Justice to oppose such legislation, arguing that it "has the potential to block millions of eligible American voters, and thus suppress the right to vote".WEB, Reilly, Ryan J., House Dems Join Senate In Urging DOJ to Fight Voter ID Laws, Talking Points Memo, July 27, 2011,weblink 2011-07-28, A 2017 study,JOURNAL, Hajnal, Zoltan, Lajevardi, Nazita, Nielson, Lindsay, Voter Identification Laws and the Suppression of Minority Votes, The Journal of Politics, en, 79, 2, 363–379, 10.1086/688343, 2017, published by The Journal of PoliticsWEB,weblink Home, The Journal of Politics, analyzed voter data from the elections starting in 2006 to 2014, and the impact of strict voter identification laws on minorities. They gathered data from Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES) and focused on 11 statesWEB,weblink Voter Identification Requirements {{!, Voter ID Laws|last=Legislatures|first=National Conference of State||language=en-US|access-date=2017-08-07}} with strict voter identification laws. The study found that in the states where these strict voter ID laws are implemented, minorities and left-leaning voters suffered lower voter turnout rates than states who had less restrictive voter ID laws.

Purging of voter rolls

On August 24, 2016, Rolling Stone magazine published a report by investigative reporter Greg Palast entitled, "The GOP's Stealth War Against Voters: Will an anti-voter-fraud program designed by one of Trump's advisers deny tens of thousands their right to vote in November?" Palast reported that "In January 2013, Kobach [the Secretary of State of Kansas] addressed a gathering of the National Association of State Election Directors about combating an [alleged] epidemic of ballot-stuffing across the country. He announced that Crosscheck had already uncovered 697,537 'potential duplicate voters' in 15 states, and that the state of Kansas was prepared to cover the cost of compiling a nationwide list. That was enough to persuade 13 more states to hand over their voter files to Kobach's office." Palast alleges that virtually all of these 697,537 'potential duplicate voters' failed to meet Kobach's claims that they matched first, middle, and last names, birth dates, and the last 4 digits of people's Social Security number: Palast interviewed Donald Alexander Webster Jr., an African-American registered in Ohio; Crosscheck claimed that D. A. Webster, Jr., was also registered as Donald Eugene Webster (no "Jr.") in Charlottesville, Virginia. D. A. Webster, Jr., assured Palast he had never been to Charlottesville. Both of these individuals "were subject to losing their ability to vote," Palast reported. Voting twice is a felony, but Palast failed to find any prosecutions of double voting.NEWS, Palast, Greg, The GOP's Stealth War Against Voters: Will an anti-voter-fraud program designed by one of Trump's advisers deny tens of thousands their right to vote in November?,weblink 2016-08-31, Rolling Stone, August 24, 2016, In his documentary "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" (2016), Palast explains that over 7 million voters—almost entirely voters of color—were on the Crosscheck lists by the time of the 2016 presidential election, allegedly because these voters had all voted multiple times in previous elections (although no one from these lists had been prosecuted for voting twice, which is a felony crime with a five-year jail sentence). Palast explains that these cross-check lists were produced only in GOP-controlled states and that the names on the list were common last names of Latinos, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans, such as "Garcia," "Hernandez," "Washington," and "Lee."WEB,weblink The Best Democracy Money Can Buy - A Greg Palast film, Since the election, Palast has appeared on the independent media news program Democracy Now! and has explained that on election day, approximately 1.1 million voters of color found themselves bumped off the official voter rolls through Crosscheck.WEB,weblink Democracy Now!, In 2017, researchers at Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and Microsoft found that for every legitimate instance of double registration it finds, Crosscheck's algorithm returns approximately 200 false positives.NEWS, The Washington Post, June 30, 2017, How Trump's nationwide voter data request could lead to voter suppression,weblink In 2008, more than 98,000 registered Georgia voters were removed from the roll of voters because of a computer mismatch in their personal identification information. Some 4,500 voters had to prove their citizenship to regain their right to vote.NEWS, Some voters 'purged' from voter rolls, Abbie, Boudreau, Scott, Bronstein, October 26, 2008, CNN,weblink Between November 2015 and early 2016, over 120,000 voters were dropped from rolls in Brooklyn, NYC.WEB,weblink After More Than 100,000 Voters Dropped In Brooklyn, City Officials Call For Action,, 2017-03-22, Officials have stated that the purge was a mistake and that those dropped represented a "broad cross-section" of the electorate. However an WNYC analysis found that the purge had disproportionately affected majority-Hispanic districts. The board announced that it would reinstate all voters in time for the 2016 Congressional primary.WEB,weblink Latino Voters Hit Hardest By Brooklyn Voter Purge,, 2017-03-22, The Board of Elections subsequently suspended the Republican appointee in connection to the purge, but kept on her Democratic counterpart.NEWS,weblink Routine Voter Purge Is Cited in Brooklyn Election Trouble, Yee, Vivian, 2016-04-22, The New York Times, 2017-03-22, 0362-4331, In 1998, Florida created the Florida Central Voter File to combat vote fraud documented in the 1997 Miami mayoral election. Many people were purged from voter registration lists in Florida, because their names were similar to those of convicted felons, who are not allowed to vote under Florida law. According to the Palm Beach Post, African-Americans accounted for 88% of those removed from the rolls but were only about 11% of Florida's voters.WEB,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 2004-10-10, Felon purge sacrificed innocent voters, May 27, 2001, Scott Hiaasen, Gary Kane and Elliot Jaspin, The Palm Beach Post, 2013-10-25, This may have cost Al Gore the presidency in the 2000 US presidential election.

Limitations on early and absentee voting

Early voting is important for voters who do not have flexible working hours and cannot take time off on a weekday to vote. The costs associated with voting include potential lost wages, transit fare and the cost of childcare.These factors inherently affect minorities and the poor more because of deep-rooted inequalities: for example, minority voters are likely to work salaried jobs and thus less likely to have paid time off to get to the voting polls, and they are also less likely to own a car.WEB,weblink Why early voting is about so much more than convenience, Washington Post, en, 2018-11-13, There are currently 23 states that do not have early voting available to all qualified voters. Of the those, 20 states require an excuse to mail an absentee ballot to voters.WEB,weblink Absentee and Early Voting, Legislatures, National Conference of State,, en-US, 2018-11-12, Since 2010, seven states have implemented additional restrictions on early voting.WEB,weblink New Voting Restrictions in America {{!, Brennan Center for Justice||language=en|access-date=2018-11-12}}According to the Brennan Center for Justice's 2013 Report Early Voting: What Works, there are many benefits to early voting including shorter lines on election day, more access to voting and increased satisfaction of voters.WEB,weblink Early Voting: What Works, In 2012 32% of voters voted early.NEWS,weblink Cutting Early Voting is Voter Suppression, American Civil Liberties Union, 2018-11-12, en, In a 2014 article in Political Research Quarterly by Micheal C. Herron and Daniel A. Smith "Race, Party, and the Consequences of Restricting Early Voting in Florida in the 2012 General Election", they show that a 2011 cutting the early voting period in Florida from 14 to 8 days and cutting the final Sunday of early voting caused a large drop in 2012 in early voting for registered Democrats, those without party ID and racial and ethnic minorities. It also states that "voters who cast ballots on the last Sunday in 2008 were disproportionately unlikely to cast a valid ballot in 2012."JOURNAL, Race, Party, and the Consequences of Restricting Early Voting in Florida in the 2012 General Election on JSTOR, Political Research Quarterly, 67, 3, 646–665, en, 24371899, Herron, Michael C., Smith, Daniel A., 2014, 10.1177/1065912914524831, This policy affected those who were already less likely to vote, in this way it was effective in controlling information through controlling who voted. Cut backs in early voting disproportionately affect African American voters who vote early in higher proportions than white voters. In 2012, in Ohio, African American voters voted early at more than 2 times the rate of white voters. In North Carolina, Republican lawmakers requested data on various voting practices, broken down by race. They then passed laws that restricted voting and registration many ways that disproportionally affected African Americans, including cutting back on early voting.NEWS,weblink Appeals court strikes down North Carolina's voter-ID law, July 29, 2016, The Washington Post, WEB,weblink Early Voting Changes In North Carolina Spark Bipartisan Controversy,, en, 2018-12-08, In a 2016 appellate court case, the 4th US District Court of Appeals struck down a law that removed the first week of early voting. They wrote that the GOP used the data they gathered to remove the first week of early voting because more African American voters voted during that week, and African American voters were more likely to vote for Democrats.WEB,weblink, 2018-12-08, Between 2008 and 2012 in North Carolina, 70% of African American voters voted early.NEWS,weblink Cutting Early Voting is Voter Suppression, American Civil Liberties Union, 2018-11-12, en, After cuts to early voting, African American turnout in early voting was down by 8.7% (around 66,000 votes) in North Carolina.NEWS,weblink After cuts to early voting, black turnout is down in North Carolina, NBC News, 2018-11-12, en-US, WEB,weblink Black Turnout Down in North Carolina After Cuts to Early Voting, November 7, 2017, NBC News,

Felon disenfranchisement

In 2004, 5.3 million Americans were denied the right to vote because of previous convictions. Thirteen states permanently disenfranchise convicted felons; eighteen states restore voting rights after completion of prison, parole, and probation; four states re-enfranchise felons after they have been released from prison and have completed parole; thirteen states allow felons who have been released from prison to vote, and two states do not disenfranchise felons at all.WEB,weblink Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States, Sentencing Project, July 2005, 2014-01-11,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-07-31, yes, Some states require felons to complete a process to restore voting rights, but offender advocates say such processes can be very difficult.The United States is the only democracy in the world that regularly bans large numbers of felons from voting after they have discharged their sentences. Many countries including Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Norway, Peru, Sweden, and Zimbabwe allow prisoners to vote (unless convicted of crimes against the electoral system).Restoration of Voting Rights Q&A, {{webarchive |url= |date=July 24, 2011 }} Some countries, notably the U.K., disenfranchise people for only as long as they are in prison (however, this has been challenged by the European Court of Human Rights)NEWS,weblink Q&A: UK prisoners' right to vote, 2011, BBC News, 2018-11-12, en-GB, .In Florida during the 2000 presidential election, some non-felons were banned due to record-keeping errors and not warned of their disqualification until the deadline for contesting it had passed.This form of vote suppression in the United States disproportionately affects minorities including African-Americans and Latinos.NEWS,weblink The New York Times, Voting Behind Bars, Linda, Greenhouse, July 29, 2010, {{additional citation needed|date=January 2015}} Disenfranchisement of felons is opposed by some as a form of the medieval practice of civil death.

Transgender disenfranchisement

Transgender disenfranchisement related to voting is also present.

Disinformation about voting procedures

Voters may be given false information about when and how to vote, leading them to fail to cast valid ballots. For example, in recall elections for the Wisconsin State Senate in 2011, Americans for Prosperity (a conservative organization that was supporting Republican candidates) sent many Democratic voters a mailing that gave an incorrect deadline for absentee ballots. Voters who relied on the deadline in the mailing would have sent in their ballots too late for them to be counted.NEWS, Catanese, David, AFP Wisconsin ballots have late return date, Politico (newspaper), Politico, August 1, 2011,weblink 2011-08-03, The organization said that the mistake was a typographical error.WEB, Kleefeld, Eric, Koch Group Mails Suspicious Absentee Ballot Letters In Wisconsin, Talking Points Memo, August 1, 2011,weblink 2011-08-03,

Inequality in Election Day resources

Elections in the United States are funded at the local level, often unequally. In the 2004 elections, Wyoming spent $2.15 per voter while California spent $3.99 per voter. In contrast, Canada spends $9.51 per voter. Underfunded election areas can result in long lines at polling places, requiring some voters either to wait hours to cast a ballot or to forgo their right to vote in that election. Voters who cannot wait the required amount of time are therefore effectively disenfranchised, while voters in well-funded areas with sufficient voting capacity may face minimal or no waiting time. This, coupled with the fact that most elections are held on Tuesdays or other weekdays, would generally make voting more difficult for workers who work full-time or longer hours and/or commute.Delays at polling places are widely regarded as being a greater problem in urban areas.NEWS,weblink Several Factors Contributed to 'Lost' Voters in Ohio, Michael, Powell, Peter, Slevin, Washington Post, December 15, 2004, A01, In 2004, the Franklin County board of elections (Columbus, Ohio) determined they needed 5,000 voting machines, but decided to move machines from urban areas to suburban areas and conduct the election using only 2,866 machines. On Election Day 2004, Tanya Thivener waited four hours in line to vote in Columbus, Ohio. Tanya's mother waited just 15 minutes to vote in a Columbus suburb. In 2012, polling places in minority neighborhoods in Maryland, South Carolina, and Florida were systematically deprived of the resources they needed to operate effectively, leading to long lines on election day.NEWS, The New York Times, Long Lines at Minority Polling Places, September 24, 2014,weblink Since 2013, 868 polling places across the South have been shut down completely; over 400 were closed in Texas alone.JOURNAL, The Nation, There Are 868 Fewer Places to Vote in 2016 Because the Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act, November 4, 2016,weblink

Closure of DMV offices

Closing local branches of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) makes it harder for residents to obtain voter IDs. In 2014, Alabama passed a law requiring a photo ID to vote; soon afterwards, the state shut down dozens of DMV offices in minority neighborhoods.WEB, CNN, DOT launches investigation in Alabama over DMV closures, December 9, 2015,weblink WEB, Esquire, The State of Alabama Has Fully Lost Its Mind, April 12, 2017,weblink

Caging lists

Caging lists have been used by political parties to eliminate potential voters registered with other political parties. A political party sends registered mail to addresses of registered voters. If the mail is returned as undeliverable, the mailing organization uses that fact to challenge the registration, arguing that because the voter could not be reached at the address, the registration is fraudulent.NEWS, Republicans crossed line with voter purge attempt, John, Bohlinger, The Montana Standard, October 5, 2008,weblink


While the majority of the world's democracies use independent agents to manage elections, 33 of 50 state election directors in the United States are elected partisans. Those party affiliations can create conflicts of interest, or at least the appearance, when directing elections. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris served as state co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign during the 2000 presidential election, and Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell served as his state's Bush-Cheney co-chair during the 2004 presidential election.BOOK, Overton, Spencer, Stealing Democracy, June 7, 2006,weblink 12 July 2017, BOOK, Stealing Democracy, Overton, Spencer, 2006, W. W. Norton, 978-0-393-06159-8,weblink 224, According to Richard E. Levy of the University of Kansas, parties in power may use sophisticated computer software to gerrymander legislative districts in their favor, with remarkable effectiveness.JOURNAL, Levy, Richard E, 377 THE NONPARTISANSHIP PRINCIPLE,weblink 10 July 2017, JOURNAL, Levy, Richard E., The Nonpartisanship Principle, Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy, August 14, 2016, 25, 3, 2822346,

Jim Crow laws

In the United States, voter suppression was used in most Southern states by democrats, who were conservatives during the Jim Crow era, until the Voting Rights Act (1965) made most disenfranchisement and voting qualifications illegal. Traditional voter suppression tactics included the institution of poll taxes and literacy tests, aimed at suppressing the votes of African Americans and poor white working class voters.WEB,weblink Techniques of Direct Disenfranchisement, 1880-1965, University of Michigan, November 20, 2016, WEB,weblink Creating Jim Crow: In-Depth Essay, Ronald L. F., Davis, The History of Jim Crow, 2014-01-11,weblink" title="">weblink 2011-07-22, yes,

Off-year elections

As off-year elections generally have much lower turnout, they can be a means by which politicians can get policies approved that otherwise would not. This is because the low turnout makes it easier for organized interest groups and voters with vested interests to let their policy goals dominate.WEB, How Democrats Suppress The Vote,weblink FiveThirtyEight, 2015-11-04, en, 2015-11-03, BOOK, Timing and Turnout: How Off-Cycle Elections Favor Organized Groups, Anzia, Sarah, University of Chicago Press, 2013, 9780226086781,

Historical examples

{{unbalanced|section|date=August 2014}}

1838 Gallatin County Election Day Battle

William Peniston, a candidate for the Missouri state legislature, made disparaging statements about the MormonsBOOK
, Greene
, John P
, John P. Greene
, Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter Day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the "Exterminating Order"
, R. P. Brooks
, Cincinnati, Ohio
, 1839
, December 31, 2006
, 18–19
,weblink" title="">weblink
, October 21, 2013
, yes
, mdy-all
, and warned them not to vote in the election.BOOK
, Smith
, Joseph
, Joseph Smith
, Rigdon
, Sidney
, Sidney Rigdon
, Smith
, Hyrum
, Hyrum Smith
, An appeal to the American people : being an account of the persecutions of the Church of Latter Day Saints, and of the barbarities inflicted on them by the inhabitants of the state of Missouri
, Cincinnati, Oh
, Shepard and Stearns
, 1840
, 16–17
, 14 April 2011
,weblink" title="">weblink
, 21 October 2013
, yes
, dmy-all
, . Reminding Daviess County residents of the growing electoral power of the Mormon community, Peniston made a speech in Gallatin claiming that if the Missourians "suffer such men as these [Mormons] to vote, you will soon lose your suffrage." Around 200 non-Mormons gathered in Gallatin on election day to prevent Mormons from voting.BOOK
, LeSueur, Stephen C.
, 1990
, The 1838 Mormon War in Missouri
, University of Missouri Press
, 55–64, 9780826206268
When about thirty Latter Day Saints approached the polling place, a Missourian named Dick Weldon declared that Mormons were not allowed to vote in Clay County. One of the Mormons present, Samuel Brown, claimed that Peniston's statements were false and then declared his intention to vote. This triggered a brawl between the bystanders. The Mormons called upon the Danites, a Mormon vigilante group, and the Missourians left the scene to obtain guns and ammunition and swore to kill the Mormons. The skirmish is often cited as the first serious violence of the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, which included the Missourians sacking the Mormon settlement of De Witt, the Mormons sacking non-Mormon homes in Daviees County, the Battle of Crooked River, the Haun's Mill Massacre and the eventual expulsion of the Mormons from Missouri under Missouri Executive Order 44.

2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal

In the 2002 New Hampshire Senate election phone jamming scandal, Republican officials attempted to reduce the number of Democratic voters by paying professional telemarketers in Idaho to make repeated hang-up calls to the telephone numbers used by the Democratic Party's ride-to-the-polls phone lines on election day. By tying up the lines, voters seeking rides from the Democratic Party would have more difficulty reaching the party to ask for transportation to and from their polling places.PRESS RELEASE
, Former RNC New England Regional Director Indicted in New Hampshire Phone Jamming Case
, 2004-12-01
, 2007-05-25, NEWS
, Former GOP Official Gets Prison Term for Phone Plot
, Associated Press
, 2006-05-17
, 2007-05-25,

2004 presidential election

Allegations surfaced in several states that a private group, Voters Outreach of America, which had been empowered by the individual states, had collected and submitted Republican voter registration forms while inappropriately discarding voter registration forms where the new voter had chosen to register with the Democratic Party. Such people would believe they had registered to vote, and would only discover on election day that they were not registered and could not cast a ballot.NEWS
, Investigation into Trashed Voter Registrations
, 2004-10-13
, George
, Knapp
, 2010-05-24
,weblink" title="">weblink
, 2009-08-26
, yes
, Nevada investigates voter registration, Probe also under way in Oregon on fraud allegations
, 2004-10-14
, May 27, 2010
, Voter Fraud Charges Out West
, 2004-10-14
, CBS News
, David Paul Kuhn
, Campaign 2004: Voter registration workers cry foul
, 2004-10-20
, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
, Dennis B. Roddy
, Michigan Republican state legislator John Pappageorge was quoted as saying, "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election."NEWS
, Voter suppression charges on the rise
, 2004-10-13
, Chip Reid
, In 2006, four employees of the John Kerry campaign were convicted of slashing the tires of 25 vans rented by the Wisconsin state Republican Party which were to be used for driving Republican voters and monitors to the polls. At the campaign workers' sentencing, Judge Michael B. Brennan told the defendants, "Voter suppression has no place in our country. Your crime took away that right to vote for some citizens."NEWS
, Ehlke
, Gretchen
, Congresswoman's son, four others charged with slashing Republican van tires on Election Day
, Associated Press
, 2005-01-24
, 2007-05-25
,weblink" title="">weblink
, 2005-08-29
, no
, Ehlke
, Gretchen
, Men Get Jail Time In Milwaukee Tire-Slashing Case
, Associated Press
, 2006-04-26
, 2007-05-25,weblink" title="">weblink 2006-05-03,

2006 Virginia Senate election

During the Virginia U.S. Senate election, Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections Jean Jensen concluded that incidents of voter suppression appeared widespread and deliberate. Documented incidents of voter suppression include:NEWS, Sec. of Virginia State Board of Elections Finds Widespread Incidents of Voter Suppression, American Chronicle, 2006-11-06,weblink 2008-09-07, yes,weblink" title="">weblink September 12, 2008,
  • Democratic voters receiving calls incorrectly informing them voting will lead to arrest.
  • Widespread calls fraudulently claiming to be "[Democratic Senate candidate Jim] Webb Volunteers," falsely telling voters their voting location had changed.
  • Fliers paid for by the Republican Party, stating "SKIP THIS ELECTION" that allegedly attempted to suppress African-American turnout.
The FBI has since launched an investigation into the suppression attempts.NEWS, FBI launches probe of Virginia pre-election calls
, 2006-11-07
, 2008-09-07, {{clarify|nothing new after six years?|date=November 2014}}
Despite the allegations, Democrat Jim Webb narrowly defeated incumbent George Allen.

2008 presidential election

A review of states' records by The New York Times found unlawful actions leading to widespread voter purges.NEWS, States' Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal, Ian, Urbina,weblink October 9, 2008, A01, New York Times, A dispute between the Social Security Administration commissioner and the National Association of Secretaries of State about the use of the Social Security database to test the validity of voters led to the shutdown of the database over the Columbus Day holiday weekend.NEWS, Voter Registrations Spark Testy Exchange, Brad, Haynes, Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2008,weblink


Wait times of 2 to 10 hours were reported during early voting at multiple Georgia locations.NEWS,weblink CNN Political Ticker, Voter Problems, May 22, 2015,


Before the presidential election, on September 16, 2008, Obama legal counsel announced that they would be seeking an injunction to stop an alleged caging scheme in Michigan wherein the state Republican party would use home foreclosure lists to challenge voters still using their foreclosed home as a primary address at the polls.WEB, September 16, 2008, Obama Camp, DNC File Lawsuit Against Michigan GOP, Kyle, Trygstad, Time,weblink WEB, September 16, 2008, Obama Team Files Suit Over Alleged Voter Suppression Plan, Mark, Halperin, Time,weblink Michigan GOP officials called the suit "desperate".NEWS, Michigan GOP: Obama Camp Suit "Desperate", Mark, Halperin, September 16, 2008, Time,weblink A Federal Appeals court ordered the reinstatement of 5,500 voters wrongly purged from the voter rolls by the state.


The conservative nonprofit Minnesota Majority has been reported as making phone calls claiming that the Minnesota Secretary of State had concerns about the validity of the voters registration. Their actions have been referred to the Ramsey County attorney's office and the U.S. Attorney looked into Johnson's complaint.NEWS, Callers question registered Minnesota voters' eligibility, Kevin, Duchschere, October 29, 2008, Star Tribune,weblink


Wait times of six hours were reported for early voting in Franklin County, leading to people leaving the line without voting.


The Republican Party attempted to have all 60,000 voters in the heavily Democratic city of Milwaukee who had registered since January 1, 2006, deleted from the voter rolls. The requests were rejected by the Milwaukee Election Commission, although Republican commissioner Bob Spindell voted in favor of deletion.Associated Press reported in Green Bay Press-Gazette, October 10, 2008.

2010 Maryland gubernatorial election

In the Maryland gubernatorial election in 2010, the campaign of Republican candidate Bob Ehrlich hired a consultant who advised that "the first and most desired outcome is voter suppression", in the form of having "African-American voters stay home."{{Citation| last = Broadwater| first = Luke| title = Schurick guilty of election fraud in robocall case| newspaper = The Baltimore Sun| date = December 6, 2011| url =weblink| accessdate = 2011-12-07| archive-url =weblink" title="">weblink| archive-date = January 11, 2014| dead-url = yes}} To that end, the Republicans placed thousands of Election Day robocalls to Democratic voters, telling them that the Democratic candidate, Martin O'Malley, had won, although in fact the polls were still open for some two more hours.{{Citation| last = Wagner| first = John | title = Ex-Ehrlich campaign manager Schurick convicted in robocall case| newspaper = The Washington Post| date = December 6, 2011| url =weblink| accessdate = 2011-12-08}} The Republicans' call, worded to seem as if it came from Democrats, told the voters, "Relax. Everything's fine. The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight." The calls reached 112,000 voters in majority-African American areas. In 2011, Ehrlich's campaign manager, Paul Schurick, was convicted of fraud and other charges because of the calls. In 2012, he was sentenced to 30 days of home detention, a one-year suspended jail sentence, and 500 hours of community service over the four years of his probation, with no fine or jail time.WEB, Brumfield, Sarah, GOP Aide Sentenced for Md. Robocall Scheme, ABC News, February 16, 2012,weblink 2012-02-24, {{dead link|date=January 2014}} The Democratic candidate won by a margin of more than 10 percent.

2012 Florida

A law was passed in 2011 by the Florida legislature which reduced the days available for early voting, barred voter-registration activities of groups like the League of Women Voters, and made it more difficult to vote for voters who since the last election had moved to a different county within the state.WEB,weblink Page Not Found - Tampa Bay Times, 2013-03-27, Jim Greer, the main source for the information cited in the Palm Beach Post article, was sentenced to 18 months for embezzling from the Florida Republican Party.WEB,weblink Former Florida GOP leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election law, A majority of early voting ballots cast in 2008 were cast by Democratic voters, and minority voters are more likely to move. The reason given by Republican politicians for the law was to reduce cost and to deter voter fraud; however, some former senior Republican officials alleged that the true drivers of the law were GOP political consultants who were seeking ways to suppress the Democratic vote.Palm Beach Post, 25 Nov. 2012, "Former Florida GOP Leaders Say Voter Suppression Was Reason They Pushed New Election Law"Several factors, including the reduction in early voting, reductions in the number of polling places, and an unusually lengthy ballot that included 11 detailed constitutional amendments, all combined to produce long lines on election day, with waits of several hours.NEWS, Powers, Scott, David Damron, Analysis: 201,000 in Florida didn't vote because of long lines, Orlando Sentinel, Orlando, Florida, January 29, 2013,weblink 2013-02-18, By one estimate, the result was that at least 201,000 likely voters did not vote, either leaving the line in frustration or not even getting in line when they saw how long it would take.

2015 early voting controversy in Maryland

In Maryland's Montgomery County, Republicans planned to move two early-voting sites from densely populated Bethesda and Burtonsville to more sparsely populated areas in Brookville and Potomac. They claimed to be aiming for more "geographic diversity"; Democrats accused them of trying to suppress the vote. The Burtonsville site had the most minority voters of all the early-voting sites in the county, while the proposed new locations were in more Republican-friendly areas with fewer minority residents.NEWS, The Baltimore Sun, Democrats cry foul over proposed closing of early voting sites, October 1, 2015,weblink

2016 presidential election

{{Further|United States presidential election, 2016}}The 2016 presidential election was the first in 50 years without all the protections of the original Voting Rights Act. Fourteen states had new voting restrictions in place, including swing states such as Virginia and Wisconsin.JOURNAL, Berman, Ari, The Nation,weblink The GOP's Attack on Voting Rights Was the Most Under-Covered Story of 2016, November 9, 2016, WEB, Green, Matthew, KQED,weblink MAP: States With New Voting Restrictions in Place for the 2016 Presidential Election, November 8, 2016, WEB, Milligan, Susan, U.S. News & World Report, I (Wish I) Voted: Recent changes to voting rights impact elections, April 1, 2016,weblink WEB, Berry, Deborah Barfield, USA Today, January 29, 2016,weblink New state voting laws face first presidential election test,


{{further|United States presidential election in Arizona, 2016}}Despite high turnout during the Arizona Democratic primary, 2016, many voters spent over five hours in lines at several Maricopa County and Arizona polling stations. From 2008 to 2016, polling locations were cut down over 70 percent, from over 200 to 40. State officials claimed the decrease was a cost savings directive. Republican Governor Doug Ducey stated, "If people want to take the time to vote they should be able to, and their vote should be counted."WEB,weblink Arizona Democrats call for probe into voter suppression claims, Eugene Scott, CNN,


In early 2016, a state judge struck down a law requiring voters to show proof of citizenship, in cases where the voter had used a national voter registration form. In May, a federal judge ordered the state of Kansas to begin registering approximately 18,000 voters whose registrations had been delayed because they had not shown proof of citizenship. Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach ordered that the voters be registered, but not for state and local elections. In July, a county judge struck down Kobach's order. Kobach, who has been repeatedly sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for trying to restrict voting rights in Kansas,NEWS, The New York Times, June 13, 2017, The Man Behind Trump's Voter-Fraud Obsession,weblink was appointed to lead the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

New York

An audit was started in April 2016 after 125,000WEB,weblink Letter from the City of New York Office of the Comptroller, Stringer, Scott M., April 19, 2016, January 15, 2017, voters in Brooklyn were removed from voter rolls and voters had trouble accessing polling sites.WEB,weblink Amid Widespread Reports Of Voter Disenfranchisement And Polling Problems, Comptroller Stringer Announces Audit Of Board Of Elections, April 19, 2016, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer, January 15, 2017,

North Carolina

In 2013, the state House passed a bill that requires voters to show a photo ID issued by North Carolina, a passport, or a military identification card to begin in 2016. Out-of-state drivers licenses were to be accepted only if the voter registered within 90 days of the election, and university photo identification was not acceptable.WEB, North Carolina legislators...,weblink FayObserver, June 21, 2013, In July 2016, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court decision in a number of consolidated actions and struck down the law's photo ID requirement, finding that the new voting provisions targeted African Americans "with almost surgical precision," and that the legislators had acted with clear "discriminatory intent" in enacting strict election rules, shaping the rules based on data they received about African-American registration and voting patterns.NEWS, Ann E. Marimow, Appeals court strikes down North Carolina's voter-ID law,weblink Washington Post, July 29, 2016, July 29, 2016, NEWS,weblink North Carolina Voter ID Law Targeted African-Americans, Appeals Court Rules, Julia Harte, Andy Sullivan, July 29, 2016, Huffington Post, July 30, 2016, On May 15, 2017, the law officially died when the US Supreme Court rejected efforts to review the Appeals Court ruling.WEB,weblink U.S. top court lets North Carolina voter law die, pleasing rights..., Lawrence, Hurley,

North Dakota

An ID law in North Dakota which would have disenfranchised large numbers of Native Americans was overturned in July 2016. The judge wrote, "The undisputed evidence before the Court reveals that voter fraud in North Dakota has been virtually non-existent."WEB, NPR, August 2, 2016, As November Approaches, Courts Deal Series Of Blows To Voter ID Laws,weblink


Since 1994, Ohio has had a policy of purging infrequent voters from the rolls. In April 2016, a lawsuit was filed, challenging this policy on the grounds that it violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.WEB, Ford, Matt, The Atlantic, May 30, 2017, Use It or Lose It?,weblink In June, the federal district court ruled for the plaintiffs, and entered a preliminary injunction applicable only to the November 2016 election. The preliminary injunction was upheld in September by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Had it not been upheld, thousands of voters would have been purged from the rolls just a few weeks before the election.WEB, ACLU, September 13, 2017, The Right to Decide When to Vote: Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute,


In July 2016, a federal appeals court found that Texas's voter ID law discriminated against black and Hispanic voters because only a few types of ID were allowed; for example, military IDs and concealed carry permits were allowed, but state employee photo IDs and university photo IDs were not.WEB, NPR, July 20, 2016, U.S. Appeals Court Finds Texas Voter ID Law Discriminates Against Minority Voters,weblink


In Wisconsin, a federal judge found that the state's restrictive voter ID law led to "real incidents of disenfranchisement, which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections, particularly in minority communities"; and, given that there was no evidence of widespread voter impersonation in Wisconsin, found that the law was "a cure worse than the disease." In addition to imposing strict voter ID requirements, the law cut back on early voting, required people to live in a ward for at least 28 days before voting, and prohibited emailing absentee ballots to voters. A study by Priorities USA, a progressive advocacy group, estimates that strict ID laws in Wisconsin led to a significant decrease in voter turnout in 2016, with a disproportionate effect on African-American and Democratic-leaning voters.WEB, The Nation, Wisconsin's Voter-ID Law Suppressed 200,000 Votes in 2016 (Trump Won by 22,748); A new study shows how voter-ID laws decreased turnout among African-American and Democratic voters, May 9, 2017, Berman, Ari,weblink WEB,, Priorities USA Voter Suppression Memo,weblink May 3, 2017,


Election Integrity Commission and Crosscheck

In May 2017, Donald Trump established the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, purportedly for the purpose of preventing voter fraud. Critics have suggested its true purpose is voter suppression. The commission was led by Kansas attorney general and Republican gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach, a staunch advocate of strict voter ID laws and a proponent of the Crosscheck system. Crosscheck is a national database designed to check for voters who are registered in more than one state by comparing names and dates of birth. Researchers at Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and Microsoft found that for every legitimate instance of double registration it finds, Crosscheck's algorithm returns approximately 200 false positives. Kobach has been repeatedly sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other civil rights organizations for trying to restrict voting rights in Kansas. On February 20, 2016, while speaking to a committee of Kansas 2nd Congressional District delegates, regarding their challenges of the proof-of-citizenship voting law he championed in 2011, Kobach said, "The ACLU and their fellow communist friends, the League of Women Voters — you can quote me on that, sued".Peter Hancock, Kansas Republicans hold to hard-right stance; ACLU and League of Women Voters ‘communists,’ Kobach says, Lawrence Journal-World, February 20, 2016; retrieved October 8, 2018.Often, voter fraud is cited as a justification for such measures, even when the incidence of voter fraud is low. In Iowa, lawmakers passed a strict voter ID law with the potential to disenfranchise 260,000 voters. Out of 1.6 million votes cast in Iowa in 2016, there were only 10 allegations of voter fraud; none were cases of impersonation that a voter ID law could have prevented. Only one person, a Republican voter, was convicted. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, the architect of the bill, admitted, "We've not experienced widespread voter fraud in Iowa."WEB, The Nation, Iowa's New Voter-ID Law Would Have Disenfranchised My Grandmother, April 13, 2017,weblink


In 2018, critics have accused the state of intentionally disenfranchising non-white voters,aided by the Supreme Court which, in its Shelby County v. Holder 5-4 decision, allowed jurisdictions with a history of suppression of minority voters to avoid continuing to abide by federal preclearance requirements for changes in voter registration and casting of ballots.Democrats aim for suburbs in Alabama ahead of Deep South votes, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Greg Bluestein, November 18, 2017. Retrieved October 14, 2018. Within 24 hours of the ruling, Alabama implemented a 2011 law requiring specific types of photo I.D. to be presented. The state closed DMV offices in eight of ten counties which had the highest percentage black population, but only three in the ten counties with the lowest black population. In 2016, Alabama's Secretary of State (SOS) John Merrill began a process to require proof of citizenship from voters, despite Merrill saying he did not know of a single case where a non-citizen had voted. Purging of voter rolls is another method of disenfranchisement and it was done so aggressively in Alabama. Even four-term Republican Representative Mo Brooks who, in March 2018, was rated the House's least bipartisan member by The Lugar Center and who was a candidate in 2017, for the seat relinquished by Jeff Sessions, found that he himself had been purged from the rolls. Merrill also refused to publicize the passage of legislation that enabled some 60,000 Alabaman former felons to vote.Seven Ways Alabama Has Made It Harder to Vote, New York Times, June 23, 2018. Retrieved October 14, 2018..WEB,weblink The Lugar Center - McCourt School Bipartisan Index; House Scores 115th Congress, 1st session (2017), May 24, 2018, October 16, 2018, Alabama's new requirement regarding proof of citizenship, had been approved by federal Election Assistance Commission Director Brian Newby, an associate of voter disenfranchisement advocate, Kansas SOS and Republican Gubernatorial nominee, Kris Kobach. EAC Director Brian Newby Tries to Sidestep Long-Settled Voter Protections, Campaign Legal Center, Harry Baumgarten & Danielle Lang, August 13, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2018. Kobach was cited as a primary author of Alabama HB 56, passed in 2010, which was described as tougher than Arizona's law.NEWS, Kris Kobach, the Kansas lawyer behind Alabama's immigration law, George, Talbot,weblink Mobile Press-Register, October 16, 2011, Much of the law was invalidated on appeal at various levels of appeals courts or voluntarily withdrawn or reworded.NEWS, Immigration law faces new challenge, Melissa, Braun, February 24, 2012, November 30, 2011, The Southeast Sun,weblink NEWS, Mary, Bauer, Court Cites Discriminatory Intent Behind Alabama's Anti-Immigrant Law, Southern Poverty Law Center, December 14, 2011,weblink 2018-10-22,weblink" title="">weblink 2012-03-11, yes, NEWS, Immigration law faces new challenge, February 24, 2012, November 30, 2011, The Southeast Sun,weblink


In Louisville, Georgia, in October 2018, Black senior citizens were told to get off a bus that was to have taken them to a polling place for early voting. The bus trip was supposed to have been part of the "South Rising" bus tour sponsored by the advocacy group Black Voters Matter. A clerk of the local Jefferson County Commission allegedly called the intended voters' senior center to claim that the bus tour constituted "'political activity,'" which is barred at events sponsored by the county. Latosha Brown, one of the founders of Black Voters Matter, described the trip's prevention as a clear-cut case of "'voter intimidation. This is voter suppression, Southern style.'" The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund sent a letter to the county calling for an "'immediate investigation'" into the incident, which it condemned as "'an unacceptable act of voter intimidation'" that "'potentially violates several laws.'"WEB,weblink UPDATED: 'This is live voter suppression': Black Voters Matter blocked from taking seniors to vote, Lerner, Kira, 15 October 2018, ThinkProgress, 17 October 2018, Georgia's Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, was the official in charge of determining whether or not voters will be allowed to vote in the November 2018 election and has been accused of voter suppression. Despite being prevented by a court from implementing wholesale disenfranchisement, thanks to Kemp's "Exact Match" policy, the state legislature wrote a new law in 2017 that facilitates use of the strategy. Minority voters are statistically more likely to have names that contain hyphens, suffixes or other punctuation that can make it more difficult to match their name in databases, experts noted, and are more likely to have their voter applications suspended by Kemp's office. Barry C. Burden, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of its Elections Research Center said, "An unrealistic rule of this sort will falsely flag many legitimate registration forms. Moreover, the evidence indicates that minority residents are more likely to be flagged than are whites." Kemp has suspended the applications of 53,000 voters, a majority of whom are minorities. "Even if everyone who is on a pending list is eventually allowed to vote, it places more hurdles in the way of those voters on the list, who are disproportionately black and Hispanic," said Charles Stewart III, Professor of Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Georgia’s 'exact match' law and the Abrams-Kemp governor's election, explained, PolitiFact, Miriam Valverde, October 19th, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2018.Georgia officials kept hundreds of voting machines locked in warehouses on Election Day 2018, creating a shortage at the polls.WEB,weblink Why did some voting machines sit unused on busy Georgia Election Day?, politics.myajc, English, 2018-12-04, This led to hours-long lines, which act as a deterrent to voters who had to work or take care of children.


In 2017, Indiana passed a law allowing the state to purge voters from the rolls without notifying them, based on information from the controversial Crosscheck system. The Indiana NAACP and League of Women Voters have filed a federal lawsuit against Connie Lawson, Indiana's Secretary of State, to stop the purges.NEWS, The Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, August 25, 2017, Groups file lawsuit against Indiana's new voter purge law,weblink In June 2018, a federal judge ruled that the law violated the National Voter Registration Act.NEWS, Whitcomb, Dan, Federal judge blocks Indiana from enforcing voter purge law,weblink October 18, 2018, Reuters, June 8, 2018,

North Dakota

In September, a federal circuit court of appeals reversed an earlier ruling that struck down a law requiring voters to have a residential street address. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case.NEWS, Hageman, John, ND tribal leaders hope to overcome voter ID 'barriers' after Supreme Court decision,weblink October 18, 2018, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, Bill Marcil, Jr., October 15, 2018, NEWS, Sonmez, Felicia, Pogrund, Gabriel, ND Native Americans fight voter ID limits,weblink October 18, 2018, Grand Forks Herald, Washington Post, Korrie Wenzel, October 13, 2018,


In February 2017, Ohio Secretary of State Jon A. Husted, a Republican, asked the United States Supreme Court to review the appellate court decision that prevented the state from purging infrequent voters from the rolls. The case was accepted; oral arguments in Husted v. Randolph Institute were heard on November 8.WEB, United States Supreme Court, No. 16-980: Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State, Petitioner, v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, and Larry Harmon, Respondents,weblink The Court issued its decision on June 10, 2018, ruling 5–4 that Ohio's law did not violate federal laws.


In Texas, a voter ID law requiring a driver's license, passport, military identification, or gun permit, was repeatedly found to be intentionally discriminatory. The state's election laws could be put back under the control of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, the DOJ has expressed support for Texas's ID law.WEB, The Atlantic, August 24, 2017, A Court Strikes Down Texas's Voter ID Law For the Fifth Time,weblink (Sessions was accused by Coretta Scott King in 1986 of trying to suppress the black vote.)NEWS, The Washington Post, January 10, 2017, Read the letter Coretta Scott King wrote opposing Sessions’s 1986 federal nomination,weblink

See also



External links

  • Fighting Voter Suppression
  • BOOK, J. Morgan, Kousser, The Shaping of Southern Politics: Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-party South, 1880-1910, {{google books, y, jK6MQgAACAAJ, |year=1974|publisher=Yale University Press|isbn=978-0-300-01696-3}}
{{Voting rights in the United States}}

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