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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

LWVUS Board President Dr. Deborah Ann Turner issued this statement in response to President Biden's proclamation on Women's Equality Day, 2021.

League leaders and voting rights activists rallied at the White House to demand the Biden administration take swift action to ensure passage of voting rights legislation.

Dr. Deborah Ann Turner issued the following statement following the US House passage of HR 4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

The League joined 200 organizations urging Representatives to support HR4, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 

We need the Senate and President Biden to use their full power and influence to pass this bill and ensure that the For the People Act becomes law.

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) was signed into law 56 years ago on August 6, 1965, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It was a proud day in American history. But the history to get to this point was stormy and full of thorns. And today, we have neither tamed the storm nor nipped the thorns still present as we work towards the American dream of life, liberty, and justice for all.  

The mission of the League of Women Voters is to empower voters and defend democracy. In the first half of 2021, LWV has done just that through a variety of cases nationwide.  

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in League of Women Voters of Indiana v. Sullivan (previously called Indiana NAACP v. Lawson) that Indiana’s purge law was inconsistent with the National Voter Registration Act.

The Senate committee on Rules and Administration held a voting rights field hearing in Atlanta, GA.