Excerpted From: Patricia A. Broussard and Joi Cardwell, “How Dare You Vote!” The Enactment of Racist and Undemocratic Voting Laws to Preserve White Supremacy, Maintain the Status Quo, and Prevent the Rise of the Black Vote-- Saying the Quiet Parts out Loud, 14 University of Miami Race & Social Justice Law Review 1 (Fall, 2023) (161 Footnotes) (Full Document)


Broussard-Cardwell.jpegVoter suppression is not a new phenomenon, scholars have written about various methods used to control the outcomes of elections since the first documented elections in the colonies. The continuum of suppression has not been broken but rather reinforced by voter ID laws, the closing of local voting polls, and the insipid decisions in cases, most recently Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. What has changed since Shelby County is the out-loud, in-your-face, unrestrained approach to voter suppression. Now, the masks are off and there is no attempt to hide the motives of the opposition which believes that only they should control elections. Suppressionists are screaming, “How dare you vote!”

Professor Terry Smith, in Whitelash: Unmasking White Grievance at the Ballot Box, brilliantly summarizes the current anti-voting frenzy by defining the word “Whitelash” as “based on the erroneous, racist view that racial inequality is a natural order, and that Whites should control the pace at which it is dismantled.”

Professor Smith further asserts that the “phenomenon is anchored in fear and resentment of cultural change, change that will eventually render the White majority a racial minority.” In other words, the changing demography has stoked the fear of a power shift. Using Professor Smith's analysis, this article will briefly outline the history of enslavement and the modern context of disenfranchisement. Further, this article will emancipation, the colorization of America, the rise of the Black electorate, and the “Whitelash” that has followed in the form of nationwide “Jim Crowesque” legislation. Stacy Abrams said it best, “What is so notable about this moment, and so disconcerting, is that they are not hiding. There is no attempt to pretend that the intention is not to restrict votes. The language is different.” And lastly, this article will offer a few antidotes to the poison which has infused the nation and put our very democracy in peril.

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Lastly, we should fight for the right to vote as if our lives depend upon it because they do. As we can attest from the current state of affairs, democracy does not maintain itself, it must be maintained. This maintenance is difficult, exhausting, messy, and imperative because it is indeed time for some new cooks in the kitchen.

Professor Patricia A. Broussard teaches Constitutional law and First Amendment at the Florida A & M University College of Law.

Joi Cardwell is a 3L Student at Florida A & M University College of Law.