Racial Equality and Voter Suppression

Solutions Journalism Network

By Jenn Rosen, Solutions Specialist

Voter suppression includes both legal and illegal methods of preventing or discouraging voters from exercising their democratic right to vote. Overtly racist and violent voter suppression tactics, such as those used to keep African American voters from exercising their rights during the Jim Crow past, are not widespread today. However, there are new institutionalized barriers that can make voting more difficult for some communities.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, since 2010, twenty-five states have passed laws that could make it more difficult to vote. Some of these laws include:

• Voter ID laws that require proof of address

• Laws that make it more difficult to register (and stay registered) to vote

• Laws limiting absentee voting

• Laws that make it hard for those with past criminal convictions to regain their voting rights

Research shows that these policies have a disproportionately negative effect on communities of color. Because of this, organizations and communities across the country are taking bold steps to overcome these barriers. As the United States approaches the 2020 national election, the articles in this collection provide important information on how organizers are engaging with communities of color in a way that respects and acknowledges a community’s culture and norms. Example initiatives covered in the collection include innovative and culturally specific ways to register people to vote, districts providing election day assistance to non-native English speaking populations, and the ways in which organizations are working to overcome voter ID laws that make it more difficult for residents of Native American nations to vote. Each of these examples of solutions journalism provide important insight into strategies that can be applied in other communities.