10 Ways the U.S. Has Kept Citizens From Voting

This 1876 cartoon shows two white men pointing guns at a black voter. The text reads: "Of course he wants to vote the Democratic ticket! Democratic 'Reformer': You're as free as the air, ain't you? Say you are, or I'll blow your black head off!" Stock Montage/Getty Images

In recent years, voting rights advocates have complained that officials have sought to scare away some voters, by making them fear that they might be arrested and prosecuted for fraud if they tried to exercise their rights and cast ballots.

In 2004, for example, The New York Times reported that Florida state election officials sent plainclothes state troopers to the homes of at least 40 to 50 elderly black voters to question them as part of an investigation into supposed election fraud. One woman in her 70s later described in an affidavit how the officers removed their jackets to reveal that they were armed.

''These guys are using these intimidating methods to try and get these folks to stay away from the polls in the future,'' Eugene Poole, president of the Florida Voters League, told the Times. ''And you know what? It's working." A state official told the Times the troopers had been sent to the voters' homes to do the interviews, which produced no evidence of fraud, because they thought it might be "a more relaxed atmosphere " [source: Herbert].

In 2014, media outlets reported that voters in Kentucky received an official-looking mailer marked "Election Violation Notice, "which contained the warning: "You are at risk of acting on fraudulent information." The supposed fraud turned out to be campaign promises of Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, who was attempting to unseat Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell. Grimes accused McConnell of trying to scare and bully voters who didn't understand that the notice was just campaign literature. She sued in an effort to gain an injunction and stop it from being distributed. But a federal judge rejected her request, and Grimes went on to lose the election [source: Brammer].