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The Vote

Voting Rights in Georgia

A Short History

by Orville Vernon Burton, Peter Eisenstadt

“[The 2020 Democratic victory] was the culmination of a century and a half of efforts by Black citizens in Georgia to be able to vote, and the first election in the state’s history when the power of white conservatives and the presumption of white supremacy were decisively defeated.”

Before the enactment of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 1965, voting rules that were neutral in their language but functionally discriminatory made the Black vote in Georgia ineffective. By the time of the VRA, Black Georgians were 34 percent of the voting age population, but there were only three Black elected officials in the state, and those officials had been elected in the previous three years before the enactment of the VRA. Overall, less than a third of the eligible Black population was registered in the state, and in Georgia’s twenty-three counties with a Black voting-age majority, only 16 percent of African Americans were registered compared to 89 percent of white people. “This exclusion from the normal political process was not fortuitous; it was the result of two centuries of deliberate and systematic discrimination by the state against its minority population.”

This article appears as an abstract above, the complete article can be accessed in Project Muse
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