Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Discrimination in the Voting Rights Act

Bemusement might best describe a typical reaction to the sight of southern state Republicans delaying the renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act because the law discriminates against them. Despite the renewal not coming due until 2007, GOP lawmakers naturally see this as an opportunity to grab a few political points before the November elections.
Several Republicans, led by Westmoreland, had worked to allow an amendment that would ease a requirement that nine states win permission from the Justice Department or a federal judge to change their voting rules.

The amendment's backers say the requirement unfairly singles out and holds accountable nine states that practiced racist voting policies decades ago, based on 1964 voter turnout data: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
Unfairly? Unfairly would rather imply that there was no basis for such scrutiny or that it was arbitrarily ordained. Nothing could be further from the truth as many southern states and the GOP in general, continue to target blacks for disenfranchisement during elections. Considering recent electoral debacles in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere, the list of states could actually do with some expansion to include them and now Missouri, which recently passed a voter ID law, something the Voting Rights Act was meant to prohibit. I would agree that this law is discriminatory. And rightly so. It discriminates based on the grim history of discrimination as practiced by these southern states. Considering how the South furiously resisted both the Civil and Voting Rights Acts, it hardly is plausible that they're all better now.

Part of the dispute surrounds the VRA provision that these particular states must submit any changes in election law to the Justice Department. This is hardly an onerous condition; one would think that states are not rewriting election laws all the time. And given the current trend in the deep South, it would be wise to not give them free reign over their election laws just yet.

In March 1965, deputies and troopers attacked voting rights activists with clubs and tear gas, on a march from the Alabama town of Selma to Montgomery.


Blogger Kel said...

Bhc, As you say, they are still doing it. Indeed, they are still doing it to blacks serving in the US armed forces to this day!

6:49 AM  

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