Civil Rights Are On The Line in State Legislatures

Press Releases

WASHINGTON – As Black History Month begins, state legislatures are on the frontlines of protecting and determining the future of hard-fought civil rights. Our country’s dark history of systemic racism continues to permeate today, especially as Republican legislatures continue to deny Black Americans access to the ballot box and rig systems to take away power and representation from Black communities. Republicans must be held accountable for the proliferation of anti-democratic attacks on voting rights and extreme racial gerrymandering.

Here’s a look at the array of voter suppression tactics Republicans in control of state legislatures across the country wield to prevent Black voters from gaining political representation – the cornerstone of American democracy. 


Black voters are underrepresented in state legislatures in the South and across the country due to deliberate racial gerrymandering. Within just the last year, Republican-drawn maps have been challenged in several states for the ways they use district lines to divide and pack voters of color into districts to reduce their overall voting power.

Burdensome photo ID laws

Photo ID laws are inherently racist and discriminatory, given they disproportionately impact voters who are low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, elderly, and people with disabilities. Nationally, 25% of Black American citizens don’t have what Republican proposals often set forth as an ID requirement, compared to just 8% of their white counterparts. States that impose strict voter ID laws depress turnout by 2-3 percentage points, which in some states is tens of thousands of votes lost. 

Limiting the number, location, and availability of polling locations

The reduction of polling places nationwide has primarily impacted nonwhite neighborhoods, where more residents cast ballots in person on Election Day. Black and Latino voters are nearly twice as likely to report long wait times at polling locations. Residents of entirely Black neighborhoods wait 29% longer to vote, with 74% waiting more than 30 minutes at their polling place. 

Restricting mail-in ballots

2020 marked the first year that non-white voters began voting by mail in large numbers, and since then, Republicans in state legislatures have since undermined this process by reducing the number of drop boxes and ballot return assistance. 

Denying voting rights to former felons

Laws that permanently bar former felons from participating in political elections are also racist. Systemic racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has led to Black Americans facing harsher sentences for the same offenses.

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Heather Williams issued the following statement:

“This Black History Month, as we celebrate the vast contributions of Black Americans, we must also stay in the fight to fully realize the promise of America for all Americans. The DLCC is committed to helping build a stronger, more equitable nation by continuing to transform the landscape of state legislative politics and build new majorities that are truly representative of the communities they serve.” 

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) is the official Democratic Party committee dedicated to winning America’s state legislatures and building state infrastructure. Over the last decade, we have fought cycle-over-cycle to gain a dozen new legislative chamber majorities and we are leading the effort to bring national attention and investment to our ballot level. State legislatures are the building blocks of our democracy and have the closest connections to Americans’ day-to-day lives. From protecting fundamental freedoms and voting rights to growing the middle class, the DLCC and state legislators are moving the Democratic agenda forward and shaping the future of this country.