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Voter Discrimination: It Still Exists

20 Oct

Voting discrimination. It’s been around forever. And many people believe that it no longer affects America: no one can be refused the right to vote based on their race, income, gender, or ethnicity. Therefore, everyone (as long as they are over 18) can vote, right? Wrong.

At the beginning of America’s history, each state had different laws that dictated who could and could not vote. At the most restrictive, these laws allowed only adult, white property-owning males to vote. This left out the majority of the population.

Fast forward about 100 years to 1870, when the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, giving all men (regardless of race) the right to vote. But the Fifteenth Amendment was repeatedly challenged in the South, as states enacted laws that did not openly restrict African American voting, but had basically the same effects. For example, many states enacted grandfather clauses, which held that a citizen could only vote if his or her grandfather had voted. Seeing as though African Americans didn’t have the right to vote in 1810, under the grandfather clauses, no African American would have the right to vote in 1870 either. Besides this, many states only allowed men to vote after they had passed a literacy test, a difficult fete for the many African Americans who had received subpar educations.

Even if the states hadn’t restricted the effectiveness of the Fifteenth Amendment, by 1870 the U.S. was still restricting half of its adult population from voting. It wasn’t until 1920 that women finally got the right to vote under the Nineteenth Amendment.

After the Voting Rights Act (which outlawed all discrimination in voting) was passed in 1965, many believed that voter discrimination was gone for good. But there are still voting laws in affect today that many see as discriminatory.

Many find the very day of the elections discriminatory. Elections happen on Tuesdays; it can be difficult for people with less flexible work hours (who usually receive less income) to leave their jobs in order to go vote. Usually people do not receive compensation for the hours they spend voting instead of working, forcing many to abandon the election polls in favor of earning the money they need. Additionally, transportation can be a problem for voters, as not everyone can find a way to get to the polls. To fix this discrimination against lower class workers, many have suggested declaring Voting Day a national holiday, in which employees can take off work to vote without punishment by their employers or loss of pay.

Some states have enacted laws that require voters to bring picture IDs with them to the polls. This often discourages those without IDs from voting. Keep in mind that the majority of those without IDs are from minority groups; therefore voter ID laws restrict minority voting, which is a form of discrimination.

Although the Voting Rights Act has significantly reduced voting discrimination, America is still far from its ideology of allowing equal participation in democracy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_Rights_Act_of_1965

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women’s_suffrage

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandfather_clause

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4 Comments

Posted by on October 20, 2013 in Elections & Campaigns

 

4 responses to “Voter Discrimination: It Still Exists

  1. Ben

    October 22, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I live in Wisconsin and we just passed the voter ID requirement. I am concerned how this will impact access to the polls. I would also like to see the reasons why this would be necessary and the supporting evidence. I appreciate your post that takes what maybe an unpopular position on a government policy. I think it is great to see young people challenged to think about the laws and policies impacting their society. Your ideas were well written.

     
  2. Claire Williams

    October 29, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Hey Caroline 🙂

    My name is Claire Williams, I am in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. We each get assigned a new student each week to write too, and also comment on our individual blogs on what we have learned.
    I really enjoyed getting updated on the government policy. Voting is a very important thing in our society. It really does change the world, and how it works. It is amazing how so much has changed since before our time.
    I agree with having a national holiday, because I work full time while in college. It would really be beneficial for me to have that day off from work!!

    I have a blog of my own as well as a class blog! you should check them both out!

    Great Job!!
    Claire Williams

    <a href="http://williamsclaireedm310.blogspot.com/

    <ahref="http://edm310.blogspot.com/

     
  3. Lance Wilkinson

    November 3, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Hello,

    My name is Lance Wilkinson. I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. Voter Discrimination has always been a problem in U.S. History. We’ve come a far way from where we once were, but discrimination still lurks in our midst. A national holiday for Election Day would be a great idea for people with un-flexible work hours. While I understand the necessity of a picture ID, it is also apparent that some may not have an ID. At the very least, States should find a way for those without an ID to get them cheaper and more efficiently. Great historical insight, great points, and great writing!

    Lance

     
  4. Raven Williams

    November 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    Hello,
    My name is Raven Williams and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I thought was blog was very interesting. I never really gave thought to how discrimination in voting was still present in America. Our country has come a long way, but we still have things to work on.

     

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