It’s important to remember that the United States was a slave state for over 200 years – and an apartheid state, after the abolition of slavery, for another century. All the while, in parts of the country, all black votes were, by definition, illegal, and the Conservatives worked hard to make sure that continues. It has only been a non-racial democracy for 55 years. And this short reign is now at stake.
In 2013, just a year after the turnout of black voters first surpassed that of white voters, the Supreme Court overturned the Voting Rights Act, which provided certain legal protections for black voters in places where they had once been excluded.
The late John Lewis’ home state of Georgia quickly set to work to thwart the black vote with more subtle weapons than the tear gas and pool clubs used in Selma, Alabama in 1965. L State reduced the number of polling stations by nearly 10%, purged tens of thousands of voters registered on the lists simply because they had not voted for some time, and suspended the registrations of 50 000 other people – mostly blacks – for such minor differences as the omission of a hyphen in their name. These long lines that we witnessed around the election were not just voter enthusiasm, but voter repression as well.
The problem is, as whites become a minority in the United States, efforts to strip non-white voters of their voting rights necessarily become increasingly crass and desperate, but cannot be guaranteed to produce results. The sums just don’t match Republicans.