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


10 Comments

  1. Voter suppression is an underhanded tactic that is used to keep people from voting. I think that this is still a problem today, even with the 15th and 24th amendments. In 2018 there was an event in Georgia where African American Seniors were prohibited from taking the bus to go vote. It made it extremely difficult for them to vote. It’s terrible that voter suppression is continuing to happen in this day and age. I think that more people should be made aware of voter suppression and it should be treated more seriously as it is an infringement on our rights as US citizens.

  2. Voter suppression is a term that we still have going on today, despite the two amendments that were passed through congress. The fact that we had to pass the amendments in the first place is sad to me, the country was founded on the premise that all men were created equal, not just some. However it is even worse to me that voter suppression is still happening, but under a variety of other tactics. I Have heard stories of voters today who had their registration revoked for “inactive voter” even though they go to the polls every year. Voter suppression is a topic that needs to be discussed again, even though it shouldn’t have to be because of the two amendments mentioned in the article.

  3. I have never heard the term, “Voter Suppression” before. Initially, I thought this would mean people not going to exercise their right to vote because personally, they did not want to. After reading this article, I have a better understanding that voting suppression is methods used to change the election results by stopping the voting of specific groups. The difference between campaigning and suppression is campaigning tries to change peoples views rather than reducing the number of votes who might vote against.

  4. It is sad that we had to create amendments to combat voter suppression. I feel like today it is easy for people to realize how far we have come especially when it relates to voting.People also do not realize that voter suppression is still happening today.For example it is very difficult, nearly impossible, to vote if someone has a felony on their record. Not to mention the recent voting issues in Georgia that are linked directly to race.But there are Americans who do not vote because they do not see the need for it.It is honestly sad that our voting system is still messed up and that suppression is still occurring even though steps have been taken to prevent it.

  5. I think that voter suppression is something that isn’t talked about often but should be discussed more. Just thinking about my own self, I have moved many times since I’ve been old enough to vote and every time I get so annoyed with having to change my voters registration. I have even showed up to vote and I wasn’t able to because I hadn’t changed it yet. I think that all of this could be so much easier but our politicians know how lazy American’s are so fewer people will be voting against them when they make things harder.

  6. Even though we live in a “free” country, suppression, when it comes to voting, is still apparent in our country. With the 15th and 24th amendment the amount of suppression is taken down dramatically. There are still lots of limits to who can and can’t vote, in some states if you’re in prison in the US and are incarcerated you can vote, while in others you can’t. There are things that can be done the almost completely eliminate voters suppression and these two amendments are a great start. More can be done, starting with unify voting laws across all the states.

  7. It’s crazy to me that we had to add 2 amendments to our Constitution and set laws in place so that every person could vote equally and in a fair way, and yet there is still voter suppression going on in today’s age. Intimidation is still in-play when elections come up, with many extremists on either wing. As a future educator, I’m going to make it my goal to educate students as best as I can on this topic.

  8. Voter suppression is definitely still a major problem in the United States. One of the best examples that this subject brings to mind is that some imprisoned people cannot vote even if they are a United States citizen. This process is called disfranchisement and simply takes away the voting rights of an imprisoned person. The catch though is that whether or not an imprisoned criminal is disfranchised is dependent on what state that they are imprisoned in. For example a prisoner in Texas cannot vote whereas a prisoner in Ohio can vote. Currently in the United States there are twenty nine states where prisoners can vote and in the other 21 states prisoners can’t vote. My argument is not on whether or not prisoners should or should not be allowed to vote but that this right to vote should at least be the same across a country in order to diminish the advantages some states get from this.
    Another possible source of voter suppression is socio economic issues. For example someone who has a car is certainly more likely to vote in comparison to someone who can’t afford a car and lives miles from the nearest polling station. Not to mention these people may have to work Election Day. Many businesses close but others that employ many of the people in an urban area such as a large hospital can’t close on a holiday therefore furthering voter suppression.

  9. Voter suppression is still going on today and it is very sad to say that. In today’s world we need people out voting but there are those that are too scared to because they may have others threatening them or taunting them because of their political beliefs. Voting should be something that all Americans do no matter gender, political party, or skin color should stop them from voting. It is good that the laws are in the constitution but the fact that we still have to use them really just sucks.

  10. It’s sad that voter suppression exists in our world today. Especially that there has to be two different amendments protecting voter rights. The right to vote is for anyone no matter race, gender, religion, etc. Progress over the years allowing African Americans and women to vote has made a huge impact for the better in the US. We must keep our minds open to get rid of any type of suppression when it comes to voting.

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