The Evolution Of American Voting Rights In 242 Years Shows How Far We\'ve Come — And How Far We Still Have To Go

While voting rights in America have come a long way toward ensuring equal ballot access for all, many scholars and activists argue that the overtly racist Jim Crow laws of the past have now given way to technically race-neutral but discriminatory policies, like voter ID laws.

Along with the predominately nonwhite citizens of American territories like Guam and American Samoa, almost 6 million taxpaying Americans with felony convictions are barred from voting due to state-level felon disenfranchisement laws.

This November, voters in Florida, a state with one of the nation's strictest disenfranchisement laws in which 1 in 10 citizens cannot vote, is voting on a ballot referendum to pass a constitutional amendment overturning the state's disenfranchisement law for good.

Other scholars and activists point to what they say are racially or otherwise discriminatory state-level voting policies states such as voter ID laws, cuts to early voting, polling place closures, and limits to pre-registration.

Texas' and North Carolina's strict voter ID laws and voting restrictions enacted in the wake of the Shelby County v. Holder were struck down in federal court, with a federal appeals court finding that North Carolina's law targeted "African Americans with almost surgical precision."

Voting issues and controversies that have been in the news this election include Georgia Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp being accused of putting 53,000 registration applications "on hold" for mismatched names and incorrectly purging 340,000 voters from the rolls.

And in North Dakota, where most Native Americans who reside on reservations only have a PO box and no residential address, the US Supreme Court upheld a state law requiring voters to bring an ID to the polls with a residential address, leaving Native communities scrambling to obtain proper IDs just weeks before the election.

Sources: Brennan Center for Justice, Business InsiderBrennan Center for Justice, Rolling StoneAssociated Press

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