The United States does not have a history of voter fraud – a term that encompasses everything from casting more than one vote to impersonating someone else – but it does have a long track record of voter suppression. From felon disenfranchisement to voter ID laws to poll watchers, these tactics affect communities of color.
On Tuesday – as people lined up to cast their votes for either Doug Jones or Roy Moore in Alabama’s special Senate election – civil rights groups received hundreds of complaints of voter suppression, according to Mother Jones. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s voter hotline received 235 calls about being put on inactive status or incorrectly being told they can’t vote. “Some of these voters are told that they cannot vote,” said Coty Montag, the director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, according to Mother Jones. “Others are being given provisional ballots. The correct [procedure] is that voters who appear on the inactive list must be allowed an opportunity to re-identify and vote a regular ballot.”
But despite this and the state’s record of suppressing Black voters, this demographic came out to vote for Jones, the Democratic challenger. White voters – 72 percent of white men and 63 percent of white women – voted for Moore, a man accused of preying on underage women. It was Black voters – led by Black women – who delivered a strong rebuke to the Trump Administration.
This should be at the center of the conversation about what happened in Alabama. A majority of white voters, including white women, chose a racist, homophobic, anti-Muslim judge mired in pedophilia accusations. And a majority of black voters carried the Democrat to victory. pic.twitter.com/azlRwxVK24
— Laila Lalami (@LailaLalami) December 13, 2017
Despite Black people making up 26 percent of Alabama’s population, they made up nearly 30 percent of those who voted on Tuesday. Despite the voter suppression that continues to exist, this election is a lesson into how we can combat a system that is designed to disenfranchise voters of color. Here are 5 lessons we can learn from Alabama’s special election: