Wait… voting rights are still an issue?

February 11, 2022

Unfortunately, the victims of this situation are also often left powerless to fix it. Voter disenfranchisement, or the reduction of the right to vote, continues to target Black Americans.

“There are really two debates on voter ID; do they target people of color, and do they decrease voter turnout? The first question is confirmed as higher percentages of marginalized groups do not have ID than whites, but turnout is still questionable as [voter ID] might have an effect on mobilizing voters to turn out,” said AP Government teacher, Michael Robbins. 

Shelby County v Holder, a 2013 Supreme Court case, rolled back parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, allowing many states to enforce restrictions that inhibited certain voters without these restrictions being approved by the federal government. North Carolina is one of many states to exploit this rollback, enforcing laws such as felony disenfranchisement, and photo voter ID. But how exactly do these hurt the communities in question?

“If people aren’t voting who are discriminated against, the systemic issue continues. How many people outside of that group are going to know the effects of that problem?” said Zoe Som, an Athens Drive senior and president of Rhizome, a club focusing on mobilizing youth into civil engagement.

Current laws in North Carolina prohibit those convicted of a felony from voting during and after their incarceration, up until the end of their probation and post-release supervision period. 

Forward Justice, an organization with a focus on combating injustice in the South, writes, “Black people are disproportionately impacted by this disenfranchisement. Our expert reports found that although Black people constitute 21% of the voting-age population in North Carolina, they represent 42% of the people disenfranchised while on probation, parole, or post-release supervision.” 

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