Voter Suppression

Updated soon after Supreme Court Decisions:  See  NVC’s founder Alice Smith’s review of past and current cases related to Voting Rights and Voter Suppression.


Voters are suppressed and discouraged in many ways:

  • Fewer polling places mean longer trips & longer waits.
  • Last-minute changes to inconvenient locations make polls hard to find.
  • Inconvenient hours and locations for registration.
  • Excessive voter ID requirements.
  • Suppression of Voter Registration Drives:  In many states, restrictive laws (for instance, requiring the presentation of a birth certificate) make it virtually impossible to conduct voter registration drives.
  • De-registering “inactive” voters without reasonable notification, such as sending postcards designed to look like junk mail with instructions in tiny type instructing voters to reply if they want to remain registered,
  • Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck  Program, or “Crosscheck,” is a list-sharing system run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach  to eliminate allegedly “duplicate” & “fraudulent” voters. Under the system, states who participate can compare voter lists in order to “purge” lists of voters who are registered in two states.  29 states participate in the Crosscheck system.  It is designed to guard against the nearly imaginary problem of vote fraud; one study estimated that there were about 31 cases of vote fraud in over 1 billion votes cast in the United States between 2000 and 2015.
  • Eliminating vote-by-mail options (that allowed busy and home-bound people to vote)
  • Felony Disenfranchisement:  Over 6 million ex-felons nationwide are prevented from voting (1.68 million in Florida alone).
  • Intimidation (“poll watchers”)
  • Mishandling votes (inaccurate machines, losing votes, etc.)
  • Gerrymandering redraws districts to make selected voters irrelevant.

For more information, many National Organizations are focused on these issues. For details on restricting the vote, see the Brennan Center.

Want to see how voter turnout in 2016 varied by race, poverty, education, etc? Click on the interactive  Voter Turnout Demographics Map created by Don McLaughlin and David Rubin.

If you missed it, check out the November 2017 highlights video of A Conversation with Ari Berman on voter suppression and threats to democracy.