Prof tells Senate Judiciary Committee that election security laws 'target Black voters' like 'Jim Crow'

Carol Anderson, a professor at Emory University, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Georgia’s election security law represents “bureaucratic violence” toward Black Georgians’ ability to vote.

In contrast, Rep. Burgess Owens told the Senate that the Georgia law does not come close to Jim Crow-style regulations.

An Emory University professor claimed before the Senate Judiciary Committee that election security laws are reminiscent of Jim Crow laws

Carol Anderson — a professor of African-American studies at Emory University — explained during the Tuesday hearing titled “Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote.”

As part of a panel, Anderson asserted that Georgia’s election security law represents “bureaucratic violence” toward Black Georgians’ rights. She

Anderson’s opening statement focused on “the use of race-neutral language to evade the Fifteenth Amendment” and “the cloaking of disenfranchisement under the banner of election integrity.”

Anderson discussed poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and other policies used at the turn of the century to prevent African-Americans from voting in the American South. She noted that these policies caused Black voter participation to decrease.

“The lie of massive, rampant voter fraud is serving the same function today as it did during the rise of Jim Crow,” she said. “It stokes fear in a segment of the population that democracy is in peril, and thus provides cover for laws that target Black voters with race-neutral language.”

Anderson condemned Republicans in 47 states for proposing “voter restriction bills.” She added that “this onslaught of bureaucratic violence” would make coordinated Jim Crow policies appear “tame in comparison.”

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Later in the hearing, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) argued that “voter suppression is rooted in White supremacy.” After likewise describing literacy tests and poll taxes, he asserted that the modern “voter suppression playbook” is “motivated by the same factors” as the Jim Crow-era regulations.

“Just because these new voter suppression tactics are facially neutral, it can be harder for people to recognize and understand their pernicious effects,” Sen. Padilla said.

“Can you share how these seemingly race-neutral policies nonetheless have disproportionate racial impacts?” Sen. Padilla asked Anderson and the other panelists.

Anderson explained that the Georgia bill causes “an elimination in Atlanta — where the majority of Black voters are — we go from 94 drop boxes to 23. And those drop-boxes are now to be housed inside, in buildings that can be closed.”

“This is how you can limit access to the ballot box while writing race-neutral laws,” she said. “These aren’t race-neutral. They’re not as race-neutral as the poll tax was, or as the literacy test was. Neither of those said ‘we don’t want Black folks to vote.’ But that was the underlying premise behind them… and that’s what we’re seeing right now with these voter suppression laws.”

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Other witnesses during the hearing did not agree that the Georgia bill has links to Jim Crow.

Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he “grew up in the era of actual, legalized institutionalized racism.”

“I grew up in the Deep South — in Tallahassee, Florida — in the 1960s, during the days of KKK, Jim Crow, and segregation,” he said. “As someone who has actually experienced Jim Crow laws, I would like to set the record straight on the myth regarding the recently passed Georgia state law, and why any comparison between this law and Jim Crow is absolutely outrageous.”

Rep. Owens said that “the section of the Georgia law that has brought so much outrage from the Left simply requires any person applying for an absentee ballot to include evidence of a government-issued ID on their application.” He finds the narrative from the left that “Black people are not smart enough, not educated enough, not desirous enough for education” to get an ID to be “extremely offensive.”

Campus Reform reached out to Anderson for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft