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The 1965 Voting Rights Act, SCOTUS, And The Simple Solution

January 28, 2013

You all know hat 1965 Voting Rights Act is under attack. We’re all aware of this, right?

voting rights act

A group, which Conservatives refer to as a “civil rights group,” and honest people refer to as a “Conservative group,” is attempting to have Section 5 of the Act eliminated. Their reasoning is fairly simplistic, and wrong but I’ll get to that in a minute. Essentially, their argument consists of this; Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is is no longer relevant because times have changed. It is unfair to treat Alabama, the state from which the complaint stems, as if it were still being governed by George Wallace. The specific requirement to which they object is that which requires the states impacted by the Act to obtain permission or “preclearance” for the federal government before they make any changes to their voting procedure and access.

And, you know, things have totally changed since then. States are in no way specifically targeting minority voters in an effort to prevent them from exercising their rights. So we don’t need enforce specific laws against the South. It’s just not fair. Also, “States Rights!”

To quote the spokesman for the group:

“The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 at a time when there was segregation, when there was open discrimination, and [when] there was hostility towards minorities voting,” he notes. “Unfortunately every time the act comes up for renewal, no one wants to touch it because they’re afraid the race card is going to be played against them.”

Don’t you love how a history of racist behavior is reduced to the dog whistle “race card?”

First of all, the states rights argument was settled in 1865. The federal government won. Look who’s flag is flying over your post office, buddy.

Second, there is a real chance that Section 5 will be struck down, not because there is no need for it but because it is possible that the group bringing the suit will successfully argue that applying the law only to those states which were members of the former Confederacy unfairly targets those states.

That appears to be a point that the Supreme Court is listening to and may be convincing enough to lead them to strike down this portion of the law. We may not be able to stop that. That’s fine, I have a solution.

If Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is struck down I propose we immediately contact our legislators and demand that they put forward the 2013 Voting Rights Act which expands the requirement of preclearance to every state in the Union. Given the amount of work the legislatures of Pennsylvania and Michigan, for example, have been doing in an effort to disenfranchise minority voters, they need the oversight.

This bill could include, among other things, the federalization of the voting system in America, which would allow for standardization of the voting process, thus eliminating butterfly ballots and and eight hour lines.

If we lose Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act we could mourn but what we should do is pounce. That is our moment to totally overhaul the voting process in this nation. If we give away this opportunity in a rage, we have no one to blame for that failure but ourselves.



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