What is voter suppression?

A past and present look at how voter suppression has unfolded in United States elections.
8:56 | 10/31/20

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Transcript for What is voter suppression?
As we do it. A long way to go to get all of the people register the voting days in the region Bob hundred registered bidders will be a magnificent. For all voter suppression has been heard the United States political scene since the nation's inception. What's happening with the voting polls with the post office I didn't want to take any chance. Amid a global pandemic the favorite voting rights act goes back at the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Voter suppression system in you have leaders he try to prove that he or discourage you from Wendi use undermining fundamental premise. Voting two block hurt patient suppression. Although the methods have involved in voter suppression continues impact American elections in 20/20. Voter suppression. Now and doesn't involve. Dogs. On leashes or people we've. Police batons. Very often it's more subtle. It's somebody being removed from boating rules it's a polling place quietly closing down to changing a rule. That looks technical but it actually affects black and brown voters the most. It well it didn't matter that we would do is don't try to suppress a vote. Today issues such as gerrymandering the active outlining voting districts in favor a particular political party. And mail in voting amid the threat of cove in nineteen remained high. Voter suppression and she's leading up to the 20/20 presidential election. The last two years seventeen million people. Removed from the voting rolls and it states many of them eligible voters. I think you see it today with coded for example. Win the fact that it is happening particularly devastating effect on. Knock it back in the jeans in. This country because of a long standing history. And lack of access to health care. The wage inequality. Deployments and equality how the inequality. You name and it's and then on top of that eking. Very common sense steps to Hitler's acts past few alternatives to balance. Other Latin you know in her stand indoors. Out of Sydney. Amounts to voters passed because of the way into racks this long long long terrible and unfortunate. Oh. When the country started only white man who owned property who could vote. We were anything like what we would consider a democracy. The declaration of independence said that government is legitimate only when it rests on the consent of the governed. And that was a pretty radical idea that began to change people's thinking some. It wasn't until the post civil war days that the US government began amending the constitution to reflect equal opportunity for all there the topic will be hotly contested for decades to come. The thirteenth amendment free the slaves fourteenth amendment and tried to guarantee equality but what was really needed was the fifteenth and to say it was unconstitutional. To deny the right to vote based on race. And that meant black men at the right to vote. In the immediate aftermath and that's what thirteen 1415. Amendments. Used. Yet some legislatures in this house almost. Half of those legislatures where no black members. And almost immediately month there's. A lot of these acts that drops to zero I was. As a representation. In response to the national amendments southern states enforce rules commonly known as the Jim Crow laws legalizing racial segregation in public places particularly between white and black Americans. As it pertains to voting poll taxes and forced in the south to discourage black voters who could not afford to pay. And literacy tests were implemented at some locations to stop those who are uneducated from participating in the voting process. EU patent literacy tests and war recite the preamble of the constitute an order. Yes how many thousand jelly beans and in this dark kind of idea but old Lee. Black voters. Hats passes out. White men however were allowed to vote without passing such test thanks to grandfather clause that said they could vote if their ancestors had voted for 1867. And of course if you grandfather was a slave. He couldn't. It looked neutral but in fact it was designed with precision to go after black voters and by nineteen. Tina grandfather clause has ruled unconstitutional. Paving the way for a series of new amendments in the twentieth century most notably granting women the right to vote in 1920. Sometimes history books saying they were given right to vote or given anything. Losing suffrage movement every bit as fierce. Created. As protest as any other movement in American history. Nearly seventy years after they were first in forced poll taxes were abolished and literacy tests for outlawed shortly thereafter. Nine this whole county there's only 200 unique role registered voters. The best team we end has something like 3000 people in the courthouse on down and trying to register. We're not allowed permits and. The civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties led to the next shift on the voting front upon passage of the voting rights act of 1965. The voting rights act. Was the most effective civil rights laws probably in American history said that stays with a history of discrimination. Moaning. Couldn't make changes in voting rules unless they got permission from the justice. Or federal court and that fact hated so that. Millions and millions. Of black men and women the first time we vote and not just that everybody really zones. Far it is not enough just to give the man writes. They must be able to use those rights. In their personal pursuit of happened. In 1993 the national voter registration act or voter vote act opened up more opportunities for citizens to register as voters. As many as thirty. Homeowners and our nation our daughters. It is the act that gives you know the ability to register your vote. When you're getting a driver's license is war if you are getting. Assistant public assistance agency it's one of those things are taken on increased importance. Today earnings over a period of time where the traditional voter registration opportunity it's illegal woman voter is all. The NAACP going up in grocery stores and act try to get it registered there votes aren't happening. Real wounds. The fight for voting rights however suffered a setback in 2013 when the voting rights act of 1965. Was ruled unconstitutional. Today the United States Supreme Court announces its decision in the case of Shelby county B holder. And invalidated an essential part of the voting rights act. Cornerstone. American civil rights law this decision represents a serious setback for voting rights and has the potential to negatively affect. Millions of Americans across the country. The Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula from the voting rights act which determine which states and jurisdictions had to see federal pre clearance or permission. To adjust voting requirements in a given area. Chief Justice Roberts said oh you know that kind of racism is kind of a thing of the past. That was then this is now. And it is up to us. To see that we. Remitted it is in this. Meaningful. And it's where. Commanders and some in 2019 and new bill aimed to restore sections of the voting rights act. When the Supreme Court decided the voting rights act's strongest credentials. The Shelby county case. It's said to congress you know you can fix this well congress has a duty to fix. And there's legislation that passed the house represented. It's funny nineteen last year. It's been reading the John Lewis and rights advancement. That would restore the strength of the voting rights and apply it to you conditions and new data and apply it nationwide and passed the house. Hasn't come up for vote in the senate. We are currently living in. In the army where there is strong push. To put more and more restrictions in place that was in Boldin and enables. With so we hit me once that Oregon how many cents backwards Italy's authority dad.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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