To the editor:
“You are either for more people voting or you want to suppress the vote”: Kenneth Chenault, former chief executive of American Express. There is no middle ground, and in Virginia, our history proves that a state can suppress the number of people who vote.
The adoption of the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution granted the vote to former slaves, and their votes meant that more people in Virginia voted for Republican candidates in the late 19th century.
The people who served in the 1902 General Assembly had promised to reduce the number of Black people who voted, and they used the adoption of a revised Constitution in 1902, adding the poll tax along with other requirements to suppress the vote. They claimed then as some do today that they wanted integrity in the vote.
They succeeded because the number of people who voted in Virginia went from 260,208 in 1900 presidential election to 130,410 in 1904 presidential election. Virginia became a state with one of the lowest percentages of people voting in the nation. The revised constitution not only reduced the number of Black people who voted but also the number of lower-income white people who voted.
In the 1960s an amendment to the Constitution of the United States along with a Supreme Court decision made the poll tax illegal and made it easier for more people to vote. In 2020, the Virginia General Assembly passed laws that made early voting and voting by mail viable options, and a record number of people voted in the presidential election.
The evidence for voter fraud is non-existent, leading one to conclude that those wanting to change the way we vote are using an old playbook to reduce the number who voted, so they might regain some of their power.
U.S. Rep. Robert Good (R-Campbell) has cast doubt on the very election that elected him to Congress. He might have been more accurate if he had shown more concern about the process used to gain him the 5th District Republican nomination. That process was designed to reduce the number voting and to ensure that he was nominated.
While Virginia’s current voting laws are safe for the time being, other states are once again claiming without evidence to have concern about voter fraud. Republicans are enacting laws once again to reduce the number of people who vote rather than seeking to persuade those voters.
ROY FORD, Danville