• Campus Vote Project

Persistence in the fight for voting rights: Honoring N.C.’s first female legislator

Smoky Mountain News, Hannah McLeod:


Despite all the work that has been done by citizens for voting rights and likening itself to the gold standard of Democratic political governance, the United States ranks 25th on the Democracy Index, put together each year by the Intelligence Unit of The Economist. There are a combination of factors driving this low democracy rating, factors that most Americans recognize.


“The barriers to women voting are universal for all voters, especially in Black, brown, and Indigenous communities. These barriers include misinformation campaigns about how and what’s needed to vote. Young women (and men) who are new to voting can be especially vulnerable to misinformation, for example, how to register as a college student,” said Fowler.


According to Rachel Clay, Southeastern Regional Coordinator for the Campus Vote Project, the 2013 Supreme Court Case Shelby v. Holder is one major cause for infringements on voting rights in recent years. This case overturned the necessity for “preclearance,” or federal oversight, of new elections and voting laws in selected areas that had a history of discrimination in voting.

“This decision essentially nullified the Voting Rights Act of 1965, getting rid of the formula which placed North Carolina under preclearance so that all of our election laws had to be reviewed for their discriminatory impact. This cleared a bunch of states, particularly in the South, to introduce whatever election legislation they wanted to and North Carolina, honestly waiting in earnest for this moment, was the first state to do so,” said Clay. “N.C. legislators introduced a myriad of voter suppression laws.”


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