Ever since African-American men were granted the right to vote with the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, programs were enacted to make it impossible for them to exercise the franchise. And needless to say, the passage of the 19th Amendment 50 years later, which opened the franchise to women, only resulted in even more programs to deny African-Americans their ability to vote in many states. All of this was quite legal under the states’ rights doctrine until the 1960s, when President Johnson and Congress finally passed the Voting Rights Act, which put the federal government in charge of monitoring the election processes of jurisdictions that were proven to have discriminated in the past. Trying to keep racial and ethnic minorities from voting is as American as apple pie.
Over the years, the right wing, which has always been hostile to the idea of “too much” democracy, worked to create an illusion that there was a great threat of “voter fraud” in America that needed to be dealt with by enacting extremely restrictive voter eligibility requirements. There is no evidence of systematic voter fraud anywhere in America, but that hasn’t stopped the right from doing everything in its power to make it difficult for ordinary people to exercise the right to vote. (If only they were as vigilant about preventing the very real threat of gun violence.)