Student News
Samidha Mishra

Samidha Mishra

The democratic principles our country has built its foundation on lie in representation. That was the rallying cry of the American Revolution, was it not? “No taxation without representation!”

It was no surprise, therefore, that when we won our independence, we structured the government in a way that would allow power to flow down to the people — through voting. The ability to vote is, arguably, the most important right that we have as American citizens. It is what gives us the opportunity to enact real change in our nation. It is how we force those in power to bow down and listen to what we want. However, the rose tinted vision this right promises is darkened with reality. Voter suppression is a tactic that uses illegal and legal measures to drown out specific voices in our nation by preventing them from voting. 

Voter suppression can be witnessed as far back as the 19th century. Although the 14th amendment made everyone, including African Americans, equal under law, it was the 15th amendment that prohibited states from disenfranchising citizens based on race. Now this sounds fantastic on paper, but Congress made no attempt for enforcement, so discriminatory methods were created to subvert this law and suppress the African American vote. For example, Jim Crow laws established a voting tax. This greatly discouraged African Americans because the tax cost them up to 6% of their annual income. 

Citizens were also obligated to pass literacy tests to vote. African Americans descended from slaves who were not allowed to be educated, so naturally it would be less likely for them to succeed. Also, these tests were so subjective that in the end it was up to the election officials’ discretion to decide who could vote. The Grandfather Clause proves that these acts were passed for voter suppression. It exempts whites from the vote tax and literacy test by enabling them to bypass the two if their grandfather had voted. 

White supremacists were also involved in voter suppression, terrorizing African Americans to frighten them from voting. The Ku Klux Klan, for example, began a “reign of terror” on these voters during the 1868 election. Their attacks grew so violent that the government could no longer turn a blind eye and passed poorly-funded Enforcement Acts that created a decline in the attacks for a while. They returned in the 1960s, during the height of the civil rights movement. The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, making voting slightly easier as it, among other things, prohibited the use of literacy tests. Angered by this increase of rights, supremacists unleashed their rage on the African American community again, thus reviving their horrific methods of voter suppression. From 1979 to 1982, street-corner executions took place at random in Buffalo, New York. At least 12 lynchings occurred in Mississippi in 1980. African American churches were firebombed with appalling regularity in the 1990s — at least eight churches suffered in South Carolina alone.  

It’s hard to believe that voter suppression persists, but the evidence speaks for itself. It’s not as conspicuous, though, usually creating subtle hindrances that disenfranchise voters. Measures have been taken to slow down the mail delivery, thus discouraging those wishing to vote safely from home during the pandemic. Post office hours have been reduced, overtime pay is denied and mailboxes have been removed. The U.S. Postal Service has even warned all states that millions of ballots could be severely delayed, raising concerns about disenfranchising all those Americans. Some states also have Voter ID laws that require voters to bring specific IDs that minorities may not be able to afford. In rural areas, citizens must travel long distances to obtain them — many in Texas have to travel 250 miles to the nearest DMV. This means taking the day off work, finding child care and paying for the trip. This all adds up to a significant economic burden that many can’t afford. Polls are shut down in many states, too, creating discouragingly long lines that most would opt to skip. The Leadership Conference Education Fund, a civil rights group, reports that 750 polling sites have been closed across Texas since 2012. The Guardian finds that these closures disproportionately affect minorities. Counties which received the most African American and Latino votes between 2012 and 2018 had 542 polls shut down, whereas the counties with the least had only 34 closed. Although it may be depressing to learn these facts, it’s necessary. We must learn from history to identify and amend its repetition, but we mustn’t be demoralized by it. Use your voice and cast your vote. That is the only way voter suppression will come to an end.

Samidha Mishra is a junior at San Mateo High School. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at news@smdailyjournal.com.

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(21) comments

tarzantom

Along with voter suppression is voter creation. An old friend who has since passed away told me how he was paid by the Democratic Party to collect names of tombstones during the Great Depression. He told me one tombstone was heavily covered with moss and he could not read the name. He started to walk by it and the Democratic Party Supervisor stopped him and said, "He has just as much right to vote as the rest of them here." By the way, that was in Pennsylvania.

Tafhdyd

People always talk about the dead voting for Democrats and I always reply that if the Republicans don't know how to get out the dead vote that's their problem.

Terence Y

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a prime example of a brain-dead Biden supporter – dishonorable and underhanded. If you can’t beat them, cheat them. It’s no wonder Daffy Taffy never documents any accomplishments of Hiden Biden. BTW, Trump finished up a rally in North Carolina but he still has rallies in Pennsylvania, Michigan (twice) and Wisconsin today, so there’s still time to enjoy one.

Tommy Tee

Pure comedy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfMUn1U3aSk&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0W0ljdKah-NYG7UMYFhrCMze4uFIHWlyZ7WXLkeOg5WC4qTte8Hzgm0x8

Tafhdyd

Tommy,

It is entertaining and surprisingly some of them could carry on a conversation even though they must have gotten their facts from Terence.

Tommy Tee

Tafhdyd- Indeed! Can't have a battle wits with unarmed people. lol

Tommy Tee

Taf--you notice the closer it gets to Tuesday the more Terrence reeks of panic and despair? He sounds just like the Tangerine Tornado. LOL It's actually very amusing, because he sounds like a broken record with his unoriginal name calling.

Terence Y

Notice when Tommy irritabili-Tee gets stressed he runs out of things to say and projects his desperation onto me? It’d be more helpful if Tommy could tell us why he supports Biden, but saying you hate Trump more than you love America is not a winning argument. BTW, for those on the fence who want to see why Trump will be re-elected, watch a Trump rally. Trump has finished his rally today in Michigan and is now in Iowa but Trump still has rallies today in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Tommy Tee

No, I hate Trump and love America. Who cares about his rallies? All he does it what you do--call people names.

Terence Y

Tommy Tee – since you stopped name calling in this comment, I’ll return the favor. Who cares about his rallies? Ask the nearly 1 million people who have attended Trump rallies since Labor Day, compared to the less than 2 thousand people at Biden/Obama rallies. Who cares about his rallies? Ask the millions of people who watch live coverage of Trump’s rallies and the millions of people who watch past coverage of Trump’s rallies. BTW, Trump just finished his North Carolina rally and is heading to Georgia. After that, he has one more rally scheduled in Florida so you still have time to tune in. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it, especially since VP candidate Harris just endorsed communism in her Tweet earlier today. Even more Democrats and Independents will now vote for Trump.

Tafhdyd

Tommy,

I didn't notice the difference from any other time. What I did notice was we haven't heard from Christopher with the exception of his bigoted remarks when the subject is Amo Lee for council.

Terence Y

Ms. Mishra – good information, but you forgot to include pertinent background. Democrats were (maybe still are) pro-slavery, a majority of Democrats opposed the 13th Amendment and zero Democrats voted for the 14th and 15th Amendments. Democrats passed Jim Crow laws and Democrats founded the KKK to terrorize slaves and to silence Republicans. Once power is given, people will do whatever it takes to keep power, resulting in suppression, whether legal or illegal. We can see Democrats pushed the limits in attempting to achieve and keep power. Maybe in the future, you can write a column on issues related to ballot harvesting and mailing ballots to everyone, dead or alive, with no ID or signature requirements. Instead of voter suppression, we have voter expansion, some legal, some illegal.

Tafhdyd

Terence,

I know it is hard to understand but this 2020 not 1870 or even 1950. You can throw out your history books from 1900 and use the internet now days. You don't have to spend money to buy new books. History has evolved even though you don't believe it. What happens today is history tomorrow.

Terence Y

Grandpa Taffy, it sounds like you threw out all your history books and believe everything on the internet these days. You’re correct in that what happens today is history tomorrow but there’s a difference between fact and fantasy. If you like your fantasy world, you can live in it, just don’t expect anyone else to believe your Republican to Democrat Party switcheroo nonsense. BTW, the Moon is not made of cheese, but I read on the internet that to test the theory, the next time astronauts land on the Moon they were going to drink some wine and cut the cheese in your honor.

Tafhdyd

Terence,

Thanks for the five dollars. What five you ask? The five I won on a bet with a neighbor when I told him what you would say in a reply to my comment. Not exactly word for word but enough to win the bet. Thanks, keep up the good work.

Terence Y

Grandpa Taffy, you’re very welcome. The Trump campaign would like to thank you for $100 donated in your name. They appreciate your monetary contribution and your TDS-vitriol and historical myths showing the intelligence, so to speak, of brain-dead Biden voters. BTW, don’t forget to watch a few Trump rallies today or tomorrow. The videos shown at the rally usually include Biden’s latest gaffes. And look up the video of Trump supporters escorting the Harris/Biden bus out of San Antonio.

Tafhdyd

Terence,

If someone donated to Trump in my name that is fine with me. It just goes to prove the old saying that a fool and his money are soon parted.

Terence Y

Laffy Taffy – that’s not a very nice thing to say about your mostly fellow Democrats who donated over $1.2 billion to the losing Crooked Hillary campaign and the over $1 billion, so far, donated to the brain-dead Biden campaign. With you calling them fools, the cancel culture (consisting of fellow TDS-infected folks like Tommy difficul-Tee) may shun you. BTW, Trump is holding rallies in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan (twice) and Wisconsin. Be like one of the 1.7 million people yesterday who either attended or watched a Trump rally.

Tafhdyd

Terence,

If 1.7 million people watched a Trump rally yesterday I guess I should change the statement to fools and their minds are soon parted.

Terence Y

Daffy Taffy – why are you insulting the 60 million people who voted for loser Hillary as fools and mindless people? Fortunately, many of those people want to be on the right side of history so they’ve educated themselves and are now voting for Trump.

wlydecker

" From 1979 to 1982, street-corner executions took place at random in Buffalo, New York." What? No mention of San Francisco's Zebra murders?

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