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Fighting Voter Suppression

We protect every American’s right to vote, challenging those who seek to restrict Black, brown, female, and other voices in our democracy. 

Why It Matters

Voter suppression is any attempt to prevent or discourage certain Americans from registering to vote or casting their ballot. These measures often target specific groups based on race, ethnicity, political affiliation, age, or other aspects of voters’ identities. The most widely used forms of voter suppression include discriminatory voter ID and proof-of-citizenship restrictions, reducing polling place hours in communities of color, cutting early voting opportunities, and illegally purging voters from the rolls.  

Historically, voter suppression has overwhelmingly targeted Black Americans. After the Civil War, Black men were able to participate in elections once the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution was adopted in 1870, which states:  

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or by any State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” 

Voter suppression in southern states raged in the form of laws to prevent poor and Black voters from participating in elections. These laws, known as Jim Crow laws, included poll taxes and literacy tests. Many of these voter suppression strategies remained in place until the 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act.  

In 2013, the US Supreme Court removed key protections of the Voting Rights Act in the decision of  Shelby v. Holder. Since then, a surge of anti-voter bills have swept across our nation– with many being legalized. 

The League will not stand for this. 

What We're Doing

Legal Work  

The League is at the forefront of the most important federal and state cases across the United States. Our legal team works tirelessly to oppose all forms of voter suppression, including: 

  • Discriminatory voter ID laws;  

  • Attacks on voter registration; 

  • Last-minute Election Day barriers;  

  • The elimination of voting locations in underserved communities; 

  • Unjust voter purges; and 

  • Attempts to limit access to early and mail-in voting.  

Advocating to End Voter Suppression 

We support legislation that empowers Americans to participate in the voting process. These include: 

  • The Freedom to Vote Act: This bill would expand voting rights by expanding early voting and same-day and online registration, creating standards for upholding voter rolls, and authorizing voter registration at new-citizen naturalization ceremonies.

  • The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act: The John Lewis VRAA would restore and strengthen aspects of the bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965, enabling Americans to protect themselves from voting laws that discriminate based on age, race, ethnicity, and other factors. 

Featured Content

Fighting Voter Suppression In Depth

Faith leaders, local and state representatives, and national civil rights leaders were arrested in series of actions calling on the Biden administration to protect the freedom to vote.
Our freedom to vote remains under threat, and with the midterm election cycle just a few months away, we need the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act more than ever.
Activists from the League of Women Voters, People For the American Way, and Declaration for American Democracy demonstrate at White House for action on the freedom to vote.
Yesterday LWV of Pennslyvania filed a petition to join Pennsylvania's Attorney General lawsuit against state Senate Republicans’ attempt to obtain private information about registered voters.
In a memo to the US Senate, LWV urged Senators to support passage of the Freedom to Vote Act.
A federal court ruled that a former US Election Assistance Commission official violated federal law in 2016 when he allowed three states – Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas – to require documentary proof of citizenship on the federal voter registration form.
LWV of the United States, along with the Leagues of New York and Florida filed an amicus brief in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, a US Supreme Court case examining New York laws regulating the right of individuals to carry guns in public places.

In early September 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed Senate Bill 1 (SB1) into law. This anti-voter legislation makes it virtually impossible for certain voters to cast their ballots. 

Yet shockingly, the situation was almost worse. If not for pro-voter advocacy by the Texas League and other voting rights allies, even more restrictive policies might have been enacted, further disempowering Texans and degrading the promise of democracy.

LWV of Texas filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas, challenging Senate Bill 1, an omnibus anti-voter bill expected to be signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.

On July 1, in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the Supreme Court dealt a significant blow to the freedom to vote. The decision held that Arizona laws discounting ballots cast out of precinct and banning nonrelative neighbors or friends to deliver mail-in ballots did not violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965, despite these laws’ negative effects on Black and brown voters. It is a major loss for voting rights at a time when this sacred freedom is under attack across the nation.