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Starbucks Opens Store in Ferguson to Help Disenfranchised Poor Communities

Starbucks Opens Store in Ferguson to Help Disenfranchised Poor Communities

Starbucks announced the opening of a location in Ferguson, Missouri, as part of a plan to help bring jobs to poor communities

The Ferguson location is just the first of many to help low-income communities.

Today Starbucks made good on its promise to open in Ferguson, Missouri — the site of racially-tinged tension and rampant unemployment.

“We at Starbucks should be willing to talk about these issues in America,” Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said. “Not to point fingers or to place blame, and not because we have answers, but because staying silent is not who we are."

Last year, after announcing an initiative to open up a discussion on race, the international coffee brand said that it would be opening locations in impoverished neighborhoods to create job opportunities for those in need and support efforts to rebuild the surrounding community. Starbucks wants to hire at least 10,000 young people across the country.

“Some people don’t have anybody to turn to, so when they come into the store I want to make them feel better,” said Adrienne, an employee at the Ferguson location. “I want them to leave with a smile knowing that someone cares. I know what it’s like to feel alone and not have someone to turn to for comfort, and I also know that amazing things can happen when you show you care.”

Starbucks will be opening 15 more locations in similar communities across the country by 2018. The first of these opened in Jamaica, Queens.


Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Last modified on Fri 8 Nov 2019 21.06 GMT

M artin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls.

Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time.

Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

Last-minute voters arrive to cast their vote during Missouri primary voting at Johnson-Wabash Elementary School on March 15, 2016 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/AFP via Getty Images

The Brennan Center at New York University – the foremost non-partisan organization devoted to voting rights and voting reform – reports that “over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box – imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls. These efforts, which received a boost when the supreme court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, have kept significant numbers of eligible voters from the polls, hitting all Americans, but placing special burdens on racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters.”

The measures these states have introduced, affecting millions of Americans, are designed to suppress the vote, hence the term “voter suppression”.

Such policies not only endanger the gains of the civil rights era, which ushered in the Voting Rights Act, but they also threaten the notion that the United States is at the forefront of western liberal democracies.

In an interview last year Barack Obama said, “We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.”

And Carol Anderson, author of One Person No Vote and an adviser on the Guardian’s new voting rights series, wrote in a piece titled Voting While Black that “the recent spate of whites calling 911 on African Americans for barbecuing while black, waiting in Starbucks while black, sleeping at Yale while black ad nauseam has led to a much-needed discussion about the policing of public spaces. Yet, there’s another important public space where blackness has been policed and we have been far too silent about it: the voting booth.

“In 2016, pummeled by voter suppression in more than 30 states, the black voter turnout plummeted by seven percentage points. For the GOP, that was an effective kill rate. For America, it was a lethal assault on democracy.”

This is why today the Guardian is launching The Fight to Vote, a yearlong investigation of the American democratic process and its failures. It will scrutinize compromised electoral systems, give a platform to voices silenced at the polls and reveal how voting suppression is already shaping the 2020 election.


Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Last modified on Fri 8 Nov 2019 21.06 GMT

M artin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls.

Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time.

Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

Last-minute voters arrive to cast their vote during Missouri primary voting at Johnson-Wabash Elementary School on March 15, 2016 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/AFP via Getty Images

The Brennan Center at New York University – the foremost non-partisan organization devoted to voting rights and voting reform – reports that “over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box – imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls. These efforts, which received a boost when the supreme court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, have kept significant numbers of eligible voters from the polls, hitting all Americans, but placing special burdens on racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters.”

The measures these states have introduced, affecting millions of Americans, are designed to suppress the vote, hence the term “voter suppression”.

Such policies not only endanger the gains of the civil rights era, which ushered in the Voting Rights Act, but they also threaten the notion that the United States is at the forefront of western liberal democracies.

In an interview last year Barack Obama said, “We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.”

And Carol Anderson, author of One Person No Vote and an adviser on the Guardian’s new voting rights series, wrote in a piece titled Voting While Black that “the recent spate of whites calling 911 on African Americans for barbecuing while black, waiting in Starbucks while black, sleeping at Yale while black ad nauseam has led to a much-needed discussion about the policing of public spaces. Yet, there’s another important public space where blackness has been policed and we have been far too silent about it: the voting booth.

“In 2016, pummeled by voter suppression in more than 30 states, the black voter turnout plummeted by seven percentage points. For the GOP, that was an effective kill rate. For America, it was a lethal assault on democracy.”

This is why today the Guardian is launching The Fight to Vote, a yearlong investigation of the American democratic process and its failures. It will scrutinize compromised electoral systems, give a platform to voices silenced at the polls and reveal how voting suppression is already shaping the 2020 election.


Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Last modified on Fri 8 Nov 2019 21.06 GMT

M artin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls.

Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time.

Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

Last-minute voters arrive to cast their vote during Missouri primary voting at Johnson-Wabash Elementary School on March 15, 2016 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/AFP via Getty Images

The Brennan Center at New York University – the foremost non-partisan organization devoted to voting rights and voting reform – reports that “over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box – imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls. These efforts, which received a boost when the supreme court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, have kept significant numbers of eligible voters from the polls, hitting all Americans, but placing special burdens on racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters.”

The measures these states have introduced, affecting millions of Americans, are designed to suppress the vote, hence the term “voter suppression”.

Such policies not only endanger the gains of the civil rights era, which ushered in the Voting Rights Act, but they also threaten the notion that the United States is at the forefront of western liberal democracies.

In an interview last year Barack Obama said, “We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.”

And Carol Anderson, author of One Person No Vote and an adviser on the Guardian’s new voting rights series, wrote in a piece titled Voting While Black that “the recent spate of whites calling 911 on African Americans for barbecuing while black, waiting in Starbucks while black, sleeping at Yale while black ad nauseam has led to a much-needed discussion about the policing of public spaces. Yet, there’s another important public space where blackness has been policed and we have been far too silent about it: the voting booth.

“In 2016, pummeled by voter suppression in more than 30 states, the black voter turnout plummeted by seven percentage points. For the GOP, that was an effective kill rate. For America, it was a lethal assault on democracy.”

This is why today the Guardian is launching The Fight to Vote, a yearlong investigation of the American democratic process and its failures. It will scrutinize compromised electoral systems, give a platform to voices silenced at the polls and reveal how voting suppression is already shaping the 2020 election.


Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Last modified on Fri 8 Nov 2019 21.06 GMT

M artin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls.

Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time.

Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

Last-minute voters arrive to cast their vote during Missouri primary voting at Johnson-Wabash Elementary School on March 15, 2016 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/AFP via Getty Images

The Brennan Center at New York University – the foremost non-partisan organization devoted to voting rights and voting reform – reports that “over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box – imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls. These efforts, which received a boost when the supreme court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, have kept significant numbers of eligible voters from the polls, hitting all Americans, but placing special burdens on racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters.”

The measures these states have introduced, affecting millions of Americans, are designed to suppress the vote, hence the term “voter suppression”.

Such policies not only endanger the gains of the civil rights era, which ushered in the Voting Rights Act, but they also threaten the notion that the United States is at the forefront of western liberal democracies.

In an interview last year Barack Obama said, “We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.”

And Carol Anderson, author of One Person No Vote and an adviser on the Guardian’s new voting rights series, wrote in a piece titled Voting While Black that “the recent spate of whites calling 911 on African Americans for barbecuing while black, waiting in Starbucks while black, sleeping at Yale while black ad nauseam has led to a much-needed discussion about the policing of public spaces. Yet, there’s another important public space where blackness has been policed and we have been far too silent about it: the voting booth.

“In 2016, pummeled by voter suppression in more than 30 states, the black voter turnout plummeted by seven percentage points. For the GOP, that was an effective kill rate. For America, it was a lethal assault on democracy.”

This is why today the Guardian is launching The Fight to Vote, a yearlong investigation of the American democratic process and its failures. It will scrutinize compromised electoral systems, give a platform to voices silenced at the polls and reveal how voting suppression is already shaping the 2020 election.


Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Last modified on Fri 8 Nov 2019 21.06 GMT

M artin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls.

Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time.

Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

Last-minute voters arrive to cast their vote during Missouri primary voting at Johnson-Wabash Elementary School on March 15, 2016 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/AFP via Getty Images

The Brennan Center at New York University – the foremost non-partisan organization devoted to voting rights and voting reform – reports that “over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box – imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls. These efforts, which received a boost when the supreme court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, have kept significant numbers of eligible voters from the polls, hitting all Americans, but placing special burdens on racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters.”

The measures these states have introduced, affecting millions of Americans, are designed to suppress the vote, hence the term “voter suppression”.

Such policies not only endanger the gains of the civil rights era, which ushered in the Voting Rights Act, but they also threaten the notion that the United States is at the forefront of western liberal democracies.

In an interview last year Barack Obama said, “We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.”

And Carol Anderson, author of One Person No Vote and an adviser on the Guardian’s new voting rights series, wrote in a piece titled Voting While Black that “the recent spate of whites calling 911 on African Americans for barbecuing while black, waiting in Starbucks while black, sleeping at Yale while black ad nauseam has led to a much-needed discussion about the policing of public spaces. Yet, there’s another important public space where blackness has been policed and we have been far too silent about it: the voting booth.

“In 2016, pummeled by voter suppression in more than 30 states, the black voter turnout plummeted by seven percentage points. For the GOP, that was an effective kill rate. For America, it was a lethal assault on democracy.”

This is why today the Guardian is launching The Fight to Vote, a yearlong investigation of the American democratic process and its failures. It will scrutinize compromised electoral systems, give a platform to voices silenced at the polls and reveal how voting suppression is already shaping the 2020 election.


Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Last modified on Fri 8 Nov 2019 21.06 GMT

M artin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls.

Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time.

Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

Last-minute voters arrive to cast their vote during Missouri primary voting at Johnson-Wabash Elementary School on March 15, 2016 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/AFP via Getty Images

The Brennan Center at New York University – the foremost non-partisan organization devoted to voting rights and voting reform – reports that “over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box – imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls. These efforts, which received a boost when the supreme court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, have kept significant numbers of eligible voters from the polls, hitting all Americans, but placing special burdens on racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters.”

The measures these states have introduced, affecting millions of Americans, are designed to suppress the vote, hence the term “voter suppression”.

Such policies not only endanger the gains of the civil rights era, which ushered in the Voting Rights Act, but they also threaten the notion that the United States is at the forefront of western liberal democracies.

In an interview last year Barack Obama said, “We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.”

And Carol Anderson, author of One Person No Vote and an adviser on the Guardian’s new voting rights series, wrote in a piece titled Voting While Black that “the recent spate of whites calling 911 on African Americans for barbecuing while black, waiting in Starbucks while black, sleeping at Yale while black ad nauseam has led to a much-needed discussion about the policing of public spaces. Yet, there’s another important public space where blackness has been policed and we have been far too silent about it: the voting booth.

“In 2016, pummeled by voter suppression in more than 30 states, the black voter turnout plummeted by seven percentage points. For the GOP, that was an effective kill rate. For America, it was a lethal assault on democracy.”

This is why today the Guardian is launching The Fight to Vote, a yearlong investigation of the American democratic process and its failures. It will scrutinize compromised electoral systems, give a platform to voices silenced at the polls and reveal how voting suppression is already shaping the 2020 election.


Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Last modified on Fri 8 Nov 2019 21.06 GMT

M artin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls.

Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time.

Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

Last-minute voters arrive to cast their vote during Missouri primary voting at Johnson-Wabash Elementary School on March 15, 2016 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/AFP via Getty Images

The Brennan Center at New York University – the foremost non-partisan organization devoted to voting rights and voting reform – reports that “over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box – imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls. These efforts, which received a boost when the supreme court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, have kept significant numbers of eligible voters from the polls, hitting all Americans, but placing special burdens on racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters.”

The measures these states have introduced, affecting millions of Americans, are designed to suppress the vote, hence the term “voter suppression”.

Such policies not only endanger the gains of the civil rights era, which ushered in the Voting Rights Act, but they also threaten the notion that the United States is at the forefront of western liberal democracies.

In an interview last year Barack Obama said, “We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.”

And Carol Anderson, author of One Person No Vote and an adviser on the Guardian’s new voting rights series, wrote in a piece titled Voting While Black that “the recent spate of whites calling 911 on African Americans for barbecuing while black, waiting in Starbucks while black, sleeping at Yale while black ad nauseam has led to a much-needed discussion about the policing of public spaces. Yet, there’s another important public space where blackness has been policed and we have been far too silent about it: the voting booth.

“In 2016, pummeled by voter suppression in more than 30 states, the black voter turnout plummeted by seven percentage points. For the GOP, that was an effective kill rate. For America, it was a lethal assault on democracy.”

This is why today the Guardian is launching The Fight to Vote, a yearlong investigation of the American democratic process and its failures. It will scrutinize compromised electoral systems, give a platform to voices silenced at the polls and reveal how voting suppression is already shaping the 2020 election.


Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Last modified on Fri 8 Nov 2019 21.06 GMT

M artin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls.

Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time.

Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

Last-minute voters arrive to cast their vote during Missouri primary voting at Johnson-Wabash Elementary School on March 15, 2016 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/AFP via Getty Images

The Brennan Center at New York University – the foremost non-partisan organization devoted to voting rights and voting reform – reports that “over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box – imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls. These efforts, which received a boost when the supreme court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, have kept significant numbers of eligible voters from the polls, hitting all Americans, but placing special burdens on racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters.”

The measures these states have introduced, affecting millions of Americans, are designed to suppress the vote, hence the term “voter suppression”.

Such policies not only endanger the gains of the civil rights era, which ushered in the Voting Rights Act, but they also threaten the notion that the United States is at the forefront of western liberal democracies.

In an interview last year Barack Obama said, “We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.”

And Carol Anderson, author of One Person No Vote and an adviser on the Guardian’s new voting rights series, wrote in a piece titled Voting While Black that “the recent spate of whites calling 911 on African Americans for barbecuing while black, waiting in Starbucks while black, sleeping at Yale while black ad nauseam has led to a much-needed discussion about the policing of public spaces. Yet, there’s another important public space where blackness has been policed and we have been far too silent about it: the voting booth.

“In 2016, pummeled by voter suppression in more than 30 states, the black voter turnout plummeted by seven percentage points. For the GOP, that was an effective kill rate. For America, it was a lethal assault on democracy.”

This is why today the Guardian is launching The Fight to Vote, a yearlong investigation of the American democratic process and its failures. It will scrutinize compromised electoral systems, give a platform to voices silenced at the polls and reveal how voting suppression is already shaping the 2020 election.


Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Last modified on Fri 8 Nov 2019 21.06 GMT

M artin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls.

Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time.

Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

Last-minute voters arrive to cast their vote during Missouri primary voting at Johnson-Wabash Elementary School on March 15, 2016 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/AFP via Getty Images

The Brennan Center at New York University – the foremost non-partisan organization devoted to voting rights and voting reform – reports that “over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box – imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls. These efforts, which received a boost when the supreme court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, have kept significant numbers of eligible voters from the polls, hitting all Americans, but placing special burdens on racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters.”

The measures these states have introduced, affecting millions of Americans, are designed to suppress the vote, hence the term “voter suppression”.

Such policies not only endanger the gains of the civil rights era, which ushered in the Voting Rights Act, but they also threaten the notion that the United States is at the forefront of western liberal democracies.

In an interview last year Barack Obama said, “We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.”

And Carol Anderson, author of One Person No Vote and an adviser on the Guardian’s new voting rights series, wrote in a piece titled Voting While Black that “the recent spate of whites calling 911 on African Americans for barbecuing while black, waiting in Starbucks while black, sleeping at Yale while black ad nauseam has led to a much-needed discussion about the policing of public spaces. Yet, there’s another important public space where blackness has been policed and we have been far too silent about it: the voting booth.

“In 2016, pummeled by voter suppression in more than 30 states, the black voter turnout plummeted by seven percentage points. For the GOP, that was an effective kill rate. For America, it was a lethal assault on democracy.”

This is why today the Guardian is launching The Fight to Vote, a yearlong investigation of the American democratic process and its failures. It will scrutinize compromised electoral systems, give a platform to voices silenced at the polls and reveal how voting suppression is already shaping the 2020 election.


Is America a democracy? If so, why does it deny millions the vote?

Voter suppression as a tactic – from strict ID laws to closing polling places to purging voter rolls – is deliberately making it hard for minority communities in America to exercise their democratic right

Last modified on Fri 8 Nov 2019 21.06 GMT

M artin Luther King Jr marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965 in protest of attempts by white legislators across the south to prevent African Americans from voting. At the time, black people outnumbered white people in Selma but comprised only 2% of the voting rolls.

Over 50 years later, King’s cousin, Christine Jordan, then 92 years old, showed up at her polling station in Atlanta, Georgia, to vote in the 2018 midterm election, just as she had in elections for the previous 50 years. But she was told there was no record of her voter registration.

“It’s horrible, she held civil rights meetings in her home and they had no record of her,” Jessica Lawrence, her granddaughter, said at the time.

Jordan’s troubles were not unusual. Although America prides itself on holding free and fair elections, and the right to vote is enshrined as the foundational principle of its democracy, there is mounting evidence of systemic attempts to prevent growing numbers of Americans from being able to exercise it.

Until recently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ensured that the federal government had oversight of changes to voting systems in those US states that had a history of voting discrimination. But that changed six years ago with a supreme court ruling that gutted the law. It meant that those very same states no longer had to get “pre-clearance” from the federal government for legislation affecting elections and voting processes. In other words, the states with the worst history of voting discrimination were free to revert to something like their previous behavior.

Last-minute voters arrive to cast their vote during Missouri primary voting at Johnson-Wabash Elementary School on March 15, 2016 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Michael B Thomas/AFP via Getty Images

The Brennan Center at New York University – the foremost non-partisan organization devoted to voting rights and voting reform – reports that “over the last 20 years, states have put barriers in front of the ballot box – imposing strict voter ID laws, cutting voting times, restricting registration, and purging voter rolls. These efforts, which received a boost when the supreme court weakened the Voting Rights Act in 2013, have kept significant numbers of eligible voters from the polls, hitting all Americans, but placing special burdens on racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters.”

The measures these states have introduced, affecting millions of Americans, are designed to suppress the vote, hence the term “voter suppression”.

Such policies not only endanger the gains of the civil rights era, which ushered in the Voting Rights Act, but they also threaten the notion that the United States is at the forefront of western liberal democracies.

In an interview last year Barack Obama said, “We’re the only advanced democracy that deliberately discourages people from voting.”

And Carol Anderson, author of One Person No Vote and an adviser on the Guardian’s new voting rights series, wrote in a piece titled Voting While Black that “the recent spate of whites calling 911 on African Americans for barbecuing while black, waiting in Starbucks while black, sleeping at Yale while black ad nauseam has led to a much-needed discussion about the policing of public spaces. Yet, there’s another important public space where blackness has been policed and we have been far too silent about it: the voting booth.

“In 2016, pummeled by voter suppression in more than 30 states, the black voter turnout plummeted by seven percentage points. For the GOP, that was an effective kill rate. For America, it was a lethal assault on democracy.”

This is why today the Guardian is launching The Fight to Vote, a yearlong investigation of the American democratic process and its failures. It will scrutinize compromised electoral systems, give a platform to voices silenced at the polls and reveal how voting suppression is already shaping the 2020 election.


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