By Sherrilyn A. Ifill in theRoot.com

In states from Florida to Pennsylvania, Republican Party efforts to diminish minority voting strength for this year’s presidential election are a sobering reminder that the struggle for full civil rights is not over. But  It is, at its core, an attempt to negate the important victories of the early 1960s that laid the foundation of our modern representative democracy….

By 1966, after the [poll tax, literacy and “understanding” tests,] and other barriers had been removed by the Supreme Court and by the passage of the Voting Rights Act, we’d begun the decades-long battle — still under way — to ensure that state and federal officials would enforce the laws that the Supreme Court had upheld. Once these structural barriers to voting were removed, those Southern white Dixiecrats (who formed the base of the modern post-civil rights Republican Party) committed to maintaining their political power and shifted their tactics to adjust to the new normal.

Because black and urban voters now proved a crucial vote in elections throughout the country, the politics of race-based fear increased and spread rapidly to the North. There, entrenched powers also sought to marginalize the potential for new voters to change the political landscape….

[T]he Republican war on voting should not be viewed solely through the lens of race. Instead it should be seen as part of a larger attack on political participation, with deep historical roots that hark back to the darkest days of American democracy. Combined with the effects of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, Republican voter-suppression efforts are a sobering reminder that we are only half a century removed from the time when, in many states, voting strength was based on race, wealth and place. These new voter-suppression tactics bring us perilously close to reliving those days.

This is what voter fraud really looks like, and all Americans, not just African Americans, stand to lose.

Read more here.

To gain an even greater understanding, see our exhibit Political Parties in Black and White.