Political Science professors tackle voting rights

By Leonardo Cervantes

Ken Chaiprasert spoke on voting rights and voter suppression. Chaiprasert went over important voter suppression cases like Crawford V. Marion County and the impact they had on the community. 

Through coded language states have been able to get away with voter suppression when it comes to low-income and minority communities. Voter suppression is the political act where politicians are create laws that undermine our democracy and our right to vote.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a pivotal piece of legislation that finally made the federal government live up to the promise made in the 15th amendment. 

“After the civil war, this country passed the 15th amendment to give everybody the right to be able to vote in democracy regardless of their race but Washington D.C. never lived up to that promise or tried to enforce it until 1965 with the VRA,” Chaiprasert said. 

This act was the pivotal moment when congress and the U.S. president did something about it. 

“Voter fraud is an excuse to disenfranchise people of color the right to vote,” Chaiprasert said.

In 2008, Crawford V. Marion County, due to Crawford the state of Indiana decided to have voter ID laws in order to vote. Even if citizens were able to vote they were now required to show current, valid and unexpired photo ID. The Supreme Court ruled that getting a valid ID is not a big enough burden and supported the states decision because this was Indiana’s way of fighting voter fraud.

Matt Barreto and his political science colleagues Stephen Nuno and Gabriel Sanchez made an overall study of what the new ID law did to people in Indiana. Based on the statistical analysis they argued against the Supreme Court by showing real data that people of color, people that are poor and democrats are negatively affected by these voter ID laws. 

In 2013, Shelby County v. Eric Holder was a Supreme Court case in which they argued that there is no more voter disparity in terms of race to justify having preclearance anymore. 

The impact of Shelby County v. Holder led to a decline in voter turnout among minority populations. The case also led to a decline in voter turnout in Democratic primary elections and an increase in voter roll purges. There were also decreases in members of Congress who support civil rights and an increase in Republican support for more restrictive voting laws. 

“As of 2022, there are over 250 bills with voting restrictions being offered around the country compared to 75 bills a year ago,” Brennan Center, a non profit organization, said.

“There are at least 51 million, roughly 25% of voting-age Americans, that are not registered and cannot vote. A disproportionate share are people of color,” Political Science Professor Kelly Velasquez said. 

As of the 2010 census data, about 37% of eligible Blacks and 48% of eligible Hispanics are not registered to vote. 

“By not being able to register people to vote they are preventing a large number of people from entering the voting population,” Velasquez said. 

Gerrymandering is a long-standing tradition in which district lines are drawn to give a political advantage to a party. One of the consequences of gerrymandering can be seen in North Carolina. In 2010, there were 2.7 million Democratic and almost 2 million Republican voters. In 2020 there were only 2.5 million Democratic voters and 2.1 million Republican voters. 

“In a Democracy voters choose their leaders but through the use of gerrymandering, these so-called leaders choose their voters,” Professor Rogelio Garcia said.

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