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Timeline shows how voting rights in America have changed over time

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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 were barred from voting in the 2018 midterms due to state-level felon disenfranchisement laws.

Last November, voters in Florida approved a constitutional amendment overturning the state’s disenfranchisement law for good, allowing around 1 million formerly disenfranchised residents to vote. Previously, 1 in 10 Floridians were barred from voting due to a felony conviction.

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.

Strict voter ID laws and other restrictions enacted by Texas and North Carolina in the wake of the Shelby County v. Holder were struck down in federal court, with one federal appeals court finding that North Carolina’s law targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

Voting issues and controversies that were been in the news last election cycle include former Georgia Secretary of State and current Governor Brian Kemp being accused of putting 53,000 voter registration applications “on hold” for mismatched names, and incorrectly purging 340,000 voters from the rolls.

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. The ruling left Native communities scrambling to obtain proper IDs just weeks before the election.

Sources: Brennan Center for Justice, Business Insider, Brennan Center for Justice, Rolling Stone, Associated Press

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