When the Republican Party recaptured the House in the 2010 midterm elections, it marked not only the end of a relatively brief period of Democratic control but also the beginning of a wider offensive against voting rights that has been underway ever since. By capturing key statehouses in 2010 and in the years that followed, Republicans have been increasingly able to tilt the electoral process in their favor — a strategy that has profoundly affected the results of recent elections and was one of the major backdrops to Donald Trump’s surprise Electoral College victory in 2016.
Jacobin’s Luke Savage sat down with Mother Jones senior reporter Ari Berman to discuss the history of gerrymandering and voter suppression — and the considerable impact both continue to have on the course of US politics.
I think of voter suppression as efforts to keep people from voting. It’s really that simple.
Back in the day, during the Jim Crow era, the tactics were more sweeping. You had things like literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses that were meant to keep people from voting — primarily African Americans, but not exclusively. There were efforts to keep poor white Americans from voting, efforts to keep new immigrant groups from voting, efforts to keep Hispanics and Native Americans from voting. So there’s a long history of this in the United States.