In the United States, minorities march against restrictions on their right to vote

Numerous rallies were held across the country on Saturday to denounce measures aimed at limiting access to the ballot boxes for minorities. About 20,000 people marched in Washington.

Thousands of people marched in Washington, Houston, Atlanta and dozens of other American cities on Saturday to defend the right to vote for minorities. According to organizers, they would be threatened by the application of laws adopted this year in several conservative states, such as in July in Arizona where access to the ballot boxes for African-American, Native American and Hispanic voters was limited.

The date of these gatherings was not chosen at random. On August 28, 1963, facing nearly 250,000 people, Martin Luther King launched his famous «I have a dream», in a speech that has become a benchmark in the struggle for civil rights. His son, Martin Luther King III, present in Washington, promised to carry, with the demonstrators, “The torch of justice that [son] father and so many others had worn ”. He called the crowd to “Do not abandon” the fight for equality at the ballot box. According to organizers, the protesters numbered around 20,000 in Washington. The police did not provide a figure.

“Voting rights for all”, “The vote is sacred”. The procession marched through the muggy heat of the federal capital from the vicinity of the White House to the foot of the Capitol, seat of the US Congress. “I have the impression that we have gone backwards”, 25-year-old student Rikkea Harris told AFP. She traveled from Colorado to participate in the protest with her father. It is necessary “That everyone contributes to attempting to overturn these restrictive electoral laws”, adds the latter, aged 65.

“Racist, anti-democratic laws”

Congress adopted in 1965 the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory electoral measures. But states have continued, with often technical measures, to limit access to the ballot boxes for minorities, particularly Afro-Americans, who vote mainly Democrats. This process has recently accelerated in Republican states against the backdrop of unproven accusations of massive electoral fraud hammered out by Donald Trump since the November 2020 presidential election.

Since January, at least 18 states have passed 30 restrictive election laws. And dozens more are under consideration, according to the Brennan Center for Justice think tank. From the obligation to have an address to register on the electoral rolls to the ban on drive-in voting, the provisions vary from state to state. “Racist, anti-democratic laws”, denounce the organizers of the demonstrations, who demand that the Congress react.

The Democratic-majority House of Representatives adopted two electoral reform projects this year aimed in particular at limiting these restrictions. However, these texts have so far no chance of overcoming a republican blockade expected in the Senate.

Thousands of people gathered in Washington last year to commemorate the anniversary and to demand an end to police violence against African Americans, in a demonstration marked by the vivid memory of the death of George Floyd in May 2020.