Mar 21, 2022 - Axios Events

Hard Truths: Race and Voting

Participants enjoyed a seated breakfast during the discussion.
Participants enjoyed a seated breakfast during the discussion.

Voter suppression, restrictive voting laws and limited access to voting stations are making it harder to vote, especially for Americans of color who have historically faced barriers to do so.

On Wednesday, March 16, Axios and URL Media hosted a roundtable discussion in Atlanta, featuring close to 20 lawmakers, activists and academics who talked about the impact of voter suppression on people of color and examined solutions for expanding voter access. Axios Atlanta reporter Kristal Dixon and WURD Radio’s Charles Ellison led the conversation.

Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux speaking to the Axios roundtable group.
Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux speaking to the Axios roundtable group.
  • Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-GA) talked about flipping Georgia’s 7th congressional district in 2020 and the voting power of Asian-Americans in that race. “What you saw in the 7th district, the reason it flipped, was we went from about 7 percent Asian vote share to 11 percent vote share, which represented around 150 percent increase in voter registration.”
  • Nsé Ufot, CEO of the New Georgia Project (NGP) said 19 state legislatures across the country passed laws that limit access to voting. “As we look towards November, the midterms…we will likely be heading towards something that looks like a constitutional crisis.” Aklima Khondoker, chief legal officer at NGP said new restrictive voting laws could impact voter turnout in the 2022 midterms and beyond. “More Black turnout means more voter suppression laws.”
Aklima Khondoker, chief legal officer at New Georgia Project, sits at the Axios table between Rep. Sandra Scott, left, and moderator Charles Ellison.
Aklima Khondoker, chief legal officer at New Georgia Project, sits at the Axios table between Rep. Sandra Scott, left, and moderator Charles Ellison.
  • Georgia state representatives Sandra Scott and Teri Anulewicz, both Democrats, said Republicans have not been willing to compromise on voting issues. “I’ve had Republican colleagues and activists say to me with a straight face ‘It’s OK to have to work a little bit to vote,’ No. The right to vote is not for the most motivated voters. It is for all eligible voters. We should be doing everything to make it easier,” Anulewicz said.
  • U.S. Election Assistance Commission chair Thomas Hicks described the stress and relentless threats facing election officials since the 2020 election. “One in five election officials are saying they won’t be around for 2024. One in two are saying they are worried about their fellow officials' safety.”
Thomas Hicks, U.S. Election Assistance Commission chair, speaking to fellow attendees.
Thomas Hicks, U.S. Election Assistance Commission chair, speaking to fellow attendees.
  • Sara Lomax Reese, CEO of WURD Radio talked about how BIPOC media outlets are combating misinformation around voting and elections. “I’ve seen how trust and authenticity really makes a huge impact, particularly when you are dealing with misinformation and disinformation. Trusted messengers matter…I see our role as Black and Brown media as having to double down and be very clear about what the issues are. We are targets for misinformation.”
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