Race Issues: Black Voter Suppression Following 2020 Elections

Nya Herron, Contributing Writer

The new voter restriction laws popping up over the country since the 2020 elections are said to be in response to unproven claims of voter fraud, yet they seem to be more in response to voter turnout and who exactly ‘turned out’ in those elections. In the 2020 elections we saw a record number of Black voters exercising their right. And following that we’re seeing efforts to suppress voters. Coincidence? I think not. 

Georgia has certainly been the most notable state to accept these new laws. Also in Georgia, organizers like Stacey Abrams worked to register more than 800,000 new voters. This was a huge success, as Georgia was the key state for ensuring Democratic presidential victory and Senate control. It was with this new wave of voters in Georgia that the voter suppression laws, signed off by the republican Brian Kemp, followed. And I ask again: coincidence? Republicans in this increasingly competitive state pushed through a law that imposes an ID requirement on absentee ballot requests, limits use of ballot drop boxes and shrinks the period for runoff contests, among other major changes. 

Instead of fraud, these laws appear to be aimed at Democrats’ success in Georgia, with a focus on Black Democrat voters. One of the most blatant additions to Georgia law is the prohibition on volunteers distributing items like food and water to voters waiting in long lines. Because of the lack of available polling locations, Georgia voters — more specifically those of color — waited hours to be able to vote in the 2020 elections. In some cases, these lines could be over eight hours for Americans to exercise their basic right to vote. To prohibit voters from receiving food and water in a line that could last eight hours is to forbid a human being from something they literally need to survive. What does this have to do with voter fraud? 

The attempt to suppress Black voters has endured for much too long. These new laws echo similar acts throughout history that tried to make it more difficult for people of color to access polls. In a country that praises their democratic values, there seems to be a strong effort to go directly against equality and popular sovereignty. America carries great pride with our democratic elections, yet to be democratic means to provide universal adult suffrage, which we see many of our governmental officials working hard to restrict. Georgia is by no means an exception; it could just be the beginning. There are at least 250 new laws that have been proposed across 43 states. 

These new laws have been referred to by officials such as Stacey Abrams, Raphael Warnock and Joe Biden as “Jim Crow 2.0.”  This doesn’t seem too far fetched as S.B. 202, the new laws in Georgia, were signed off by a group of white men in front of a painting of a building on the site of an antebellum plantation. Oh, the irony! Mimicking the laws that came out during the Jim Crow Era, there is no explicit mention of Black voter suppression, thanks to the 15th amendment, there was and is Southern lawmakers spinning a web of restrictions and regulations meant to catch most Black voters and keep them out of the electorate. The effort of Republicans and conservatives to deny this is pretty comical as they overhaul their state’s election laws because their party lost. The idea that these laws play on neutrality while placing burdens on a partisan and racist basis is, at the very least, Jim Crow adjacent.