The on juries and run for local

            The issue
of voting in America originated back in 60s during the Reconstruction period in
the South. There were tactics such as violence and intimidation used against
blacks to prevent them from participating in elections. Jim Crow Laws were
introduced, separating blacks from the white population. Democrats passed laws
to make voter registration and electoral rules limited and this resulted in the
political participation of blacks and also, poor whites decreased. In the late
1800s early 1900s blacks voting was suppressed even more. The Confederate
states passed amendments disenfranchising blacks and poor whites with poll
taxes, literacy and comprehension tests, and residency requirements. With these
new constitutions along with harassment, physical violence, and intimidation
when they tried registering or voting, voter turnouts decreased tremendously.

The inability to vote also affected eligibility to serve on juries and run for
local office.

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            After World
War II, the Civil Rights Movement came about in attempts to resist these laws
set for the purpose to disenfranchise black Americans.  There were plenty of boycott demonstrations
and protests conducted by black Americans in hopes for changes to be made by
politicians. By 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed, signed in to law by
President Lyndon Johnson, as a response to the nearly century-long history of
voting discrimination. This act channeled the Fifteenth Amendment that put in
place to protect citizens from having their right to vote abridged or denied
due to “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” (U.S. Constitution. Art. /Amend. XV,
Sec. 1.).

            “The Voting
Rights Act of 1965 (amended and/or extended in 1975, 1982, and 2006) was
specifically written to overcome the use of legal and extralegal practices to
exclude minorities from the voting booth and minimize minority political voice
and power” (Bowler, Shaun). This act also gave the federal government access to
monitor states with historically low voter turnout. Section 2 prohibits vote
denial and vote dilution, i.e. gerrymandering and vote cracking. Section 4b
identifies consistently discriminatory districts. Section 5 covers jurisdiction
needing preclearance before changing any election laws.

            The first
issue I found here is that the courts consider Congress’s preclearance section
of the Voting Rights Acts to be outdated. In the case of Shelby County v.

Holder, the Court held that “Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act imposes current
burdens that are no longer responsive to the current conditions in the voting
districts in question” (Shelby County v. Holder). In his concurring opinion, “Justice
Clarence Thomas argued that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is
unconstitutional in addition to Section 4. He wrote that the blatant
discrimination against certain voters that Section 5 was intended to prohibit
is no longer evident. Without such extraordinary circumstances, Congress cannot
constitutionally justify placing the burden of Section 5 on the states in
question (Shelby County v. Holder)

            This
leads me to my second issue that is voter discrimination and how it covertly persists today. As of 2017, more than
half the country implemented new voter registration laws making it more
difficult for citizens to vote in America. These new laws include strict photo
ID requirements, early voting cutbacks, registration restrictions, etc.; all
forms of voter suppression that keeps citizens away from the polls on Election
Day. Going back to Justice Thomas’ opinion, it seems that he may be wrong.

These last few years of states passing laws in order to take advantage of
election results should be considered an extraordinary circumstance. Blatantly
proving why Congress needs to rewrite the “outdated” preclearance system in
order to prevent the issue of voter discrimination.

            Voting laws
that require certain types of ID cards or laws that ban those with criminal
backgrounds largely target POC and lower income people. Not to mention
completely denying prisoners the right to vote and the extreme difficulties
that comes with being homeless and trying to vote. There is also a sense
of discouragement amongst lower income voters by having Election Day take place
during a work day, tacked on with the fact that they aren’t automatically
registered to vote in this country so one would have to make time to register
as well. Legally everyone is supposed to be allowed time away from their job to
vote with no reduction in pay, but there are several stipulations within that
right. Your employer might still force you to stay or the lines, especially in
minority/lower income neighborhoods where polling stations have been cut by the
hundreds, exceed the time you’re allowed to take and receive payment for. This
gets even more complicated when you factor in things like lack of
transportation, childcare, etc. 

            For instance,
in 2016 North Carolina fought to have a voter ID law passed that prohibited early
voting days and banned same-day voter registration, eliminated straight-ticket
voting, and introduced more restrictions on casting provisional ballots. It would
prohibit pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds. After the Shelby County
ruling, this made states like North Carolina free from preclearance. This
allowed North Carolina’s Republicans to write and pass the bill HB 589. Luckily,
the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals eventually blocked it. The court found that the bill
had a disproportionate impact on minorities and was enacted with the discriminatory
intent to disenfranchise them. This was in violation of both the Voting Rights
Act and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The court
wrote that the legislature had “targeted African Americans with almost surgical
precision.”

            Legislatures
like to insist that bills such as HB 589 are designed to stop voter fraud,
which in most cases have been proven to be non-existent in the United States. These
types of laws and barriers disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters every
election cycle and with parts of the Voting Rights Act being stripped away it’s
only gotten worse.

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