Modern Vote Suppression Better Than Jim Crow, Still Pretty Bad

By | August 20, 2013

A pervasive sense of racial victimization has afflicted conservatives during the Obama years — the feeling that they are beset by a combination of false accusations of racism and actual anti-white racial animus that they dare not denounce lest they trigger still more false accusations of racism. That bundle of grievances resurfaced last week when North Carolina Republicans passed sweeping restrictions on voting rights, and Hillary Clinton declared in a speech, “Anyone who says that racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention.”

Cast once again as the heirs to the political tradition of the segregated South, conservatives have lashed back. It is certainly true that modern Republican vote suppression pales in comparison with the pre-1965 version, in method and scale, to the point where equating the two is absurd. Segregated states used violence and “literacy tests” to disenfranchise the vast majority of the black population. The modern analogue instead works around the margins. Nobody is forcibly prohibited from voting. Instead, bureaucratic hurdles discourage some small share of disproportionately Democratic voters from voting.

Life can be hectic, time is short, there are kids and jobs, paperwork is a hassle — Republican election policy is to use these weapons to gain a few percentage points here and there. People with less money have less flexibility at work and less ability to navigate government paperwork requirements. It’s far, far less vicious than Jim Crow, and conservatives are justified in taking umbrage at the easy, frequent equations between the two that pervade liberal discourse. (New York Magazine)

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