voting rights


  1. Rough Outline. Pulling from the Preliminary Research you have gathered, work to structure your essay (Introductory/Background/Context, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusion/Reflection).

* Include subheadings or guiding questions that will help you organize your information and begin to see the shape of the critical conversation or discussion your paper will explore.

  1. Detailed Outline. After you have a rough outline of your essay, begin plugging in relevant sources and source information. Plug in sources you will reference and identify/organize the information you will include from each source.  Remember that synthesis requires you to put sources in conversation, so make sure to include at least two sources for each key point you identify in your essay.


Rough outline

Identify additional sources

Identify relevant source information.

Work on Detailed Outline

Narrowed Focus/ ResearchQuestions: How do voter suppression tactics of the past compare to the tactics used to undermine or weaken voting rights now? What are the current struggles surrounding voting rights and what might we do about them?

Background Context.

  • Post Civil War,  Reconstruction
  • Constitutional Changes that worked to grant greater equality and legal rights to all people.
    • The passing of the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th Amendments.
  • Backlash/Responses to these changes
    • How did the passing of these Amendments and the efforts at Reconstruction work to promote fear/anxiety/resistance in the south? 
    • Growing fear about threats to White Supremacy and the influence of women/people of color/minorities on the political process.Threat to white social institutions of power.

The Body

Historical Challenges:

Introduce Jim Crow Laws/ Black Codes/The Mississippi Plan

  • Explain motivations/purposes of these strategies or laws.
  • Identify who was most likely to be targeted by these laws.

Identify the problem/struggles that black americans for facing in the south)

Identify/Explain/Provide Examples of Tactics//Strategies to suppress voting rights.

  • Poll Taxes
  • Land Ownership Requirements
  • Literacy Tests/Tests
  • Grandfather Clauses
  • White-Only Primaries
  • Violence/Intimidation
    • White Supr Groups
      • Lynching
    • State/Local Gov.
    • Communities
    • Johnson Admins turns blind eye to actions in the south
  • Ideology/ Campaigns to discourage voter participation
  • Gerrymandering.

What groups were most likely to be subjected to these tactics:

  • Identify groups that were often denied voting rights and political representations.

How effective were these attempts? What effects did they have?

  • Examine the success of these attempts.
  • How widespread was the problem of voter suppression in the south
  • Early Reconstruction voter participation and political representation for Black Men vs Late Reconstruction voter participation and political representation.

Resistance/Responses/Challenges to Voter Suppression

  • Highlight Activism/Advocacy seeking to challenge voter suppression.
  • Identify key figures, organization, or groups attempting to resist voter suppression
  • Identify different measures or approaches to resistance.
  • Selma/Montgomery, Freedom Summer

Victories/ Legislative Wins

  • 1965 Voting Act
  • The 24th Amendment
  • Were these wins successful in ending voting suppression?

Current Challenges: (Compare these strategies)

Examples of Voter Suppression

  • The weakening of the VRA (Shelby vs Holder)
  • The closing of polling locations
  • Voter roll purges
  • Voter ID Laws
  • Disinformation campaigns
  • Felony disenfranchisement laws
  • Anti-protest bills
  • Limited access to early voting
  • Discriminatory signature verification requirements
  • Intimidation efforts still ongoing?


Efforts to confront and eradicate voter suppression.

Implications?  Why we should care? What’s at stake?

Reforms:-What can be done to address Voter Suppression?

  • Examine Pro-voter reforms
  • Highlight work/advocacy/activism to address current voter suppression.
  • Offer suggestions for how we can address the problem

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