US history holds a chilling warning about restricting votes

As a curator of political history at the Smithsonian, I’ve spent years studying the bad old days of American politics. Leafing through contested election trial transcripts, constable’s reports and boxes of fraudulent ballots, I’ve studied the voter suppression and violence that was once a common feature of our democracy in the 19th century. It always seemed distant to me, with a consoling “it used to be worse” appeal. But recently, this past has been reanimated by new, partisan state laws designed to make it harder to vote.