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What is voter suppression?

As Kentucky's primary gains national attention, the state's Board of Elections says there is a lot of "misinformation" surrounding voter suppression claims.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky's primary is gaining national attention and the state's Board of Elections says there is a lot of "misinformation" surrounding voter suppression claims.

The state previously announced only one polling location would be available in each of its 120 counties due the coronavirus pandemic. While Gov. Andy Beshear announced all voters could request an absentee ballot to vote by mail, many called the state's lack of polling locations — especially in Jefferson County — voter suppression.

RELATED: Kentucky election officials call voter suppression claims 'misinformation'

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 15th Amendment, making it illegal to deny someone the right to vote based on their race.


What exactly is voter suppression?

Voter suppression traces its modern roots to the 2013 decision Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holderwhich was ruled in favor of Shelby County, Alabama, and ended some Voting Rights Act provisions. The act passed during the Civil Rights Movement was meant to protect the vote of black people, who were frequently the target of highly discriminatory laws and policies designed to discourage them from voting.

The voting rights group Demand The Vote defines it this way: "Voter suppression is any effort, either legal or illegal, by way of laws, administrative rules, and/or tactics that prevent eligible voters from registering to vote or voting."

So when people say what they're seeing in Kentucky is voter suppression, they generally mean the process of voting has been made so dysfunctional that it is, by design, meant to keep people from voting - "tactics that prevent eligible voters from voting."

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