Author Carol Anderson speaks at Brookline Library on voter suppression

Carol Anderson signs copies of her book and talks about elections with attendees after her discussion at the Public Library of Brookline. Sept. 11. Photo by Noor Adatia / BU News Service.
Carol Anderson signs copies of her book and talks about elections with attendees after her discussion at the Public Library of Brookline. Sept. 11. Photo by Noor Adatia / BU News Service.

By Noor Adatia
BU News Service

BROOKLINE — Author Carol Anderson, 59, released her book “One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy,” on Sept. 11, before members of the Brookline community at the public library, where she talked about racial inequality in voting systems.

Lydia McOscar, events co-director at the library, said with midterm elections quickly approaching, the release of the book comes at a crucial point in American politics.

“I’m hoping that people will be better informed about our system and how it works right now and what may be wrong with it,” McOscar said.

The Public Library of Brookline partnered with Brookline Booksmith to host the event, which attracted more than 30 people. Paris Alston, WBUR’s associate producer, moderated the discussion.

Alston, 24, said she wanted to ask questions that would elicit passionate responses from the author.

“I also wanted to make sure to ask questions that were relevant to things that were happening today and were relevant to the everyday lives of people not only in the room but to people all across the nation,” she said.

Discussing inspiration for her book, Anderson said she realized the scope of the issue after learning about efforts to prevent minorities from voting for Obama. She wanted to examine “how these policies of voter suppression actually work.”

“So that we can see the work these policies are doing and how they are undermining our democracy,” she said.

Voter suppression methods

There are many tactics to exclude votes from communities of color, Anderson said, including redistricting, removing polling places, understaffing voting booths and even placing stations several miles away from minority neighborhoods.

“What gerrymandering is designed to do, what all of these are designed to do, is to demoralize the people so that they don’t think their vote counts,” she said.

Anderson pointed to voter suppression methods in Southern states such as Georgia and Alabama as examples for how, she said, some American citizens are disenfranchised today.

For example, Anderson said, while Georgia’s population has increased, the number of registered voters has gone down.

Most recently in Randolph County, Georgia, where black people make up 60 percent of the population, a politician proposed a plan to shut down seven of the nine voting stations. This caught the eye of the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped squash the measure.

Outside of the hall where people gathered to hear Anderson speak, a stack of voter registration forms were available for those who were interested.

“We need to ensure there are adequate polling stations available for all of the voters,” Anderson said. “To be sure that there’s lots of education going on about voter registration and what you need and what you don’t need.”

Concerning the upcoming midterm elections — the results of which could switch control of Congress to Democrats— Anderson said it is important to be vigilant so voter suppression plans like the one in Randolph County do not come into fruition.

“I worry that there are things going on that we can’t see,” she said.

Anderson pointed to what she described as a positive development — bringing up the victory of Doug Jones over Roy Moore in the special U.S. Senate elections in Alabama last December.

“The black folks turned out, and that was the insurgency Alabama was not expecting,” she said.

“There are ways to overcome voter suppression.”

After her talk, Anderson signed copies of her book and spoke individually with members of the audience. Much of the conversation surrounded results of the 2016 election.

“When you begin to do that math, you begin to see the role of voter suppression in putting that regime into power,” Anderson said in an interview after the panel. “That’s why it’s so essential that we understand what suppressing the vote of Americans means.”

Noor Adatia is a Boston University journalism student writing as part of a collaboration between the Brookline Tab and BU News Service.

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