OSWEGO, N.Y. – In a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 7 in 10 Black voters cited voter suppression as their biggest concern related to the 2022 midterm election.
Voter suppression is the efforts that people make to reduce the amount of voting or the number of people who are registered to vote. This method primarily affects Black voters in America.
Alexa Cox, a broadcasting and political science major, learned about a law she believed affected one group of people more than any others.
“There are voting laws that disproportionately affect people of color,” Cox said. “One of the laws was that if you’re one of those people who have an apostrophe or an accent over your name and it’s on your ID but not on your voter registration ticket, you can’t vote.”
This law was considered the Exact Match Law in Georgia. This law meant that there has to be an exact match between what their legal name is on their state driver’s license or their social security card. If this match is not made then their voter registration will be suspended until the discrepancy is fixed.
There are many laws like this that can be seen as forms of voter suppression that vary from state to state.
In some states, where a considerable number of Black people voted by mail in the 2020 election, there was an increase in laws that prohibited or restricted voting by mail.
According to the poll, there are varying forms of voter suppression that Black voters worry about. Issues like the long wait in polling lines, being told they are not registered voters when they arrive at the polls, they did not get their mail-in ballots on time, or at all, their mail-in ballot was rejected, or they were told they did not have the proper forms of identification.
In the last election, there was an increase in voter turnout among Black voters. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, this was the largest voter turnout since the 2012 election.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, there was only an eight percentage point gap in the 2012 election between white and non-white voters. There was a 12.6-point gap in 2016 and this decreased to a 12.5 gap in 2020.
Historically, voter suppression has been an issue that Black voters have had since the Reconstruction era.
The Reconstruction era is the period after slavery that lasted for about 12 years, Kenneth Marshall, associate professor of history at SUNY Oswego, said.
This era was followed by the Jim Crow era, which would make voting even harder for African Americans and Black people.
The ballot is the key to a democratic government and Black people have always seen that, but they have not always been able to use it, Marshall said.
“This started with the Plessy v. Ferguson decision, where the Supreme Court says that segregation is okay, and when that happens you have terrorist groups like the Ku Klux Klan that are gonna make it their point to stop Black people from voting,” Marshall said.
This happened in many ways. There were many forms of voter suppression that were used to keep Black voters from being able to vote.
Miscounts, literacy tests, poll taxes, grandfather clauses, and moving ballot boxes are just a few of the forms of voter suppression.
Literacy tests were tests that tested how literate a person was and if they passed, they would be able to vote. Black people were not often given the same educational opportunities, so they rarely passed the tests. Blacks were often not given the same job opportunities, so they made little to no money, were not able to pay poll taxes, and could not vote.
The grandfather clause stated that if a person’s grandfather could not vote, then neither can they. This affected Black people because their grandparents were slaves and did not have the right to vote therefore, they did not have that right either.
There are a number of groups working toward helping Black voters overcome voter suppression.
Black Voters Matter was founded with the purpose of empowering Black voters to vote. Their mission is to empower the community by empowering the members of that community to vote.
Black Voters Matter is an organization working to increase Black voter turnout in all areas. They also advocate policies that help increase voting rights for Black or African American individuals.
OswegoNow reached out for comment about how Black Voters Matter is managing the 2022 midterm election, but there was no response.
The midterm election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Certain polling locations are open for early voting and absentee ballots have been mailed out.