Communities of color have long faced difficulties and discrimination when it comes to voting in this country. Although the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870 officially granted African-Americans the right to vote, states found many ways to keep people of color from voting. Using violence, intimidation, literacy tests, or poll taxes, certain states made it incredibly difficult to register and vote.
It took nearly 100 years and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to enable the majority of African-Americans to actually be able to vote. The violent tactics of the past to disenfranchise minorities has given way to less obvious, political strategies to prevent communities of color from voting. This includes government-issued photo ID laws, gerrymandering, and overly restrictive requirements for voter registration.
“The methods for marginalizing the power of African-American communities may have changed over time, but the outcome is the same – making it harder for people of color to cast a ballot. This is wrong. Instead of playing games with our fundamental voting rights, state and local lawmakers should work to ensure elections are free, fair and equally accessible to all.” ~ Andrea Young, Executive Director, ACLU of Georgia
Just this month, Georgia’s Secretary of State recommended charges be pressed against 14 citizens who aided in the New Georgia Project, which aims to increase voter registration for people of color in Georgia. The organization has registered 130,000 young people and people of color to Georgia's voter rolls since 2014. These 14 citizens would be charged with a felony for incorrect voter registration forms and could face up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Out of the 86,000 voter registrations submitted by the Project, the State Election Board identified just 53 that were allegedly forms of voter fraud.
— Liz (@lizheckenberg) September 22, 2017
Color of Change has filed a petition for racial justice, telling the Attorney General of Georgia to drop the charges in this case. They claim this is just another attempt to disenfranchise voters of color and discourage organizations from increasing the electorate.