Voting in a Democracy- Lessons on Voter Suppression

People vote in cardboard voting booths at a polling station in Boise, Idaho, USA. - Image ID: D1R3NB

Dr. David Childs, Ph.D
Northern Kentucky University

15th Amendment
Section 1- The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

24th Amendment
Section 1- The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

The above amendments ostensibly guaranteed the right of Americans to vote regardless of their race or class. These amendments were passed in an effort to stop the disenfranchisement of African Americans, especially in the south. The 15th amendment guaranteed black men the right to vote and the 24th amendment made the poll tax illegal.  The amendments were written to stop voter suppression.

Voter suppression is a variety of methods used to change election results by stopping and disrupting the voting of specific groups of people. Voter suppression is different from political campaigning. With political campaigning candidates attempt to change the opinions and practices of their voting of through persuasion and organization. However, the goal of voter suppression is to reduce the number of voters who might vote against a candidate or proposition.

“The tactics of voter suppression range from minor changes to make voting less convenient, to physically intimidating and even physically attacking prospective voters, which is illegal. Voter suppression can be effective if a significant number of voters are intimidated or disenfranchised.”



Lesson Plans and Resources on Voter Suppression
Teaching the Truth About Voter Suppression
The Voting Rights Act, 1965 and beyond
Voter Suppression Lesson Plan
Barriers to Voting
Lesson Plan: To Vote or Not to Vote
Lesson Activity- Who gets to Vote?
Voter Fraud? Or Voter Suppression?
Election Resources

References
Fighting Voter Suppression
Voter-Suppression Tactics in the Age of Trump
Voter Suppression
Voter Oppression in the United States


5 Comments

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  2. With the state and local election coming up, I think voting has become a common topic lately. I got to teach second-grade students on this valuable right and responsibility we have as citizens to have a say in our government. They were surprised and some upset that it wasn’t always a possibility in America and that other places in the world don’t get to have this contribution and voice in their government and laws. I agree with what several other commenters have mentioned: It is saddening to consider the number of times someone in our history has been denied the right to vote and that we’ve had to make more than one federal law regarding this issue.

  3. America has come so far since voting was first introduced. At first you had to be a white man who owned land or paid taxes. Then black males earned the right to vote. Then lastly women earned the right to vote. No matter how far you go, there will always be more room for growth. I feel as if that is the case with voter suppression. Voter suppression is trying to prevent groups of people into not voting in order to attempt to control the fate of an election.
    It is sad that we are trying to prevent something from happening that was once fought so hard for. Voter suppression goes beyond harassing by other citizens, which is bad enough. The fact that voting is made less accessible for certain groups of people is extremely disheartening. We are supposed to all be given equal opportunities to vote, and if some people have easier access than others, that is not fair. Regardless of your views, background, color, or gender you deserve the right to vote, the same way that everyone else does. We have passed these amendments on voting for a reason and we as American’s need to remember that.

  4. Although there are  two Amendments directed towards voter suppression, I think it’s still an issue that can be seen throughout America. In the article, intimidation is discussed. This suppression was definitely a much larger problem before the 24th amendment was ratified, but people still face hidden tactics used to make voting less convenient or frightening. There are people willing to break the law to intimidate groups of people from voting.  It’s very disheartening to imagine the lengths these people go to in order to make others feel unsafe to carry out their rights. I hope one day everyone will be able to vote without fear or hatred from other groups.

  5. It’s hard to believe there was a time in our country where everyone was not given the right to vote. Even though we are all given the right to vote, we don’t always feel like our votes count. We are sometimes even coerced and pressured by various factors to vote in a particular way. We often feel pressures from our family and peers. We encounter influences on our political views everyday. Even though we have the freedom to vote, we are sometimes limited in our freedom. It’s shocking that voter suppression is still an occurrence in today’s society. If we have the right to vote, we should be allowed to vote our way. There should be no infringements.

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