THE NATION'S COMMITMENT to “one person, one vote” is under assault. In the months after the horrific Jan. 6 violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, we have seen the greatest effort to restrict the right to vote since the Jim Crow era. A sobering report by the Brennan Center for Justice tracks the surge of legislation proposed by Republicans in statehouses across the country that would further restrict access to voting, all supposedly in the name of election integrity. As of April, Republicans in 47 states had proposed, introduced, or carried more than 360 bills that would further restrict the right to vote by limiting early and mail voting, imposing further ID requirements, enabling voter purges, and other tactics. The good news is that there has also been a push to expand voting rights, with 47 states having introduced 843 bills to expand voting access. The challenge is that in 24 states in which Republicans have a majority in state houses and hold the governorship, many of the voter suppression bills will be difficult to overturn without a surge of public awareness and outrage.
Voter suppression has been a fixture in our democracy since the founders limited the right to vote to land-owning white men. The passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act extended the right to vote to everyone, including Black citizens who were disenfranchised through violence and Jim Crow laws. Now, more than 55 years later, we are witnessing a resurgence of voter repression efforts.