Read a PDF of our statement here.

Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)’s Thurgood Marshall Institute (TMI) released its executive summary of Democracy Defended, a forthcoming report that details critical findings from monitoring the 2020 election season in key states across the South. 

The executive summary of this Spring’s full report provides a preview of the Democracy Defended ’s five key findings: 

  • Intimidation against Black voters was more rampant than in any recent election.
  • Election administration issues continue to compromise voting accessibility.
  • Early voting is an essential feature of ensuring access to the polls, especially for Black voters.
  • Mail-in voting is a critical voting option for all communities.
  • Our democracy continues to require an outsized proportion of non-government efforts to protect the right to vote.

“Black voters in 2020 faced tremendous obstacles to vote – from the dangers of being exposed to COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted Black communities, to legislative and administrative efforts to suppress their ability to cast a ballot,” said LDF Associate-Director Counsel Janai Nelson. “This concerted effort to diminish the power of the Black vote came in many forms, including the purging of voter rolls, mail-in voting requirements, ID laws, rampant misinformation, and direct attempts to intimidate voters and ballot counters. 

“This effort continued during Georgia’s 2021 runoff election, where the number of available polling sites was significantly reduced during early voting – in some counties, by more than half. Unsurprisingly, many of these closures happened in communities of color. And while turnout in the general election and the runoff set records, we must remember that neither an election’s outcome nor the success of voters to overcome waves of obstacles truly determines the status of voting rights in this country. Unencumbered access to the ballot does. Democracy Defended will provide crucial insight into what went wrong for Black voters in 2020 and what changes are needed to preserve the power of voters to engage in our democracy.” 

The full report, scheduled to be released this Spring, will analyze hundreds of instances of voter suppression and obstacles to the ballot that occurred over the previous election cycle while considering paths for reform. LDF previously released Democracy Defended after the 2018 midterm elections

Read the executive summary here


Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.