Over the past several months, we’ve heard a lot about the Russian government’s interference in our 2016 election, and rightly so. But we’ve heard less about another threat that has nothing to do with Vladimir Putin but is just as destructive and just as effective at undermining the integrity of our democracy: a decades-long assault on voting rights. This campaign is nothing less than a sustained attack on American democracy from within.
We have no doubt that voter suppression laws have been “passed with racially discriminatory intent,” as federal courts have recognized. We also know that others were passed with an unacceptable tolerance of discriminatory effects. In 2013, those who seek to discriminate were empowered by the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark law that was one of the greatest achievements of the modern civil rights movement. These days, discriminatory barriers to the ballot box often hide behind seemingly benign objectives of “fighting voter fraud” and “protecting election integrity.”
But as we discussed earlier this month at an event hosted by the Brennan Center for Justice, there’s more to the story of why these laws have proliferated in recent years. We believe that those of us who oppose these voter suppression efforts have failed to raise awareness about what they actually do.
Read the full op-ed here