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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is The Landmark Voting Rights Act Outdated?

A line of voters stand in the rain outside this Montgomery, Ala., polling place as they wait to cast their ballots in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2000. (Dave Martin/AP)

A line of voters stand in the rain outside this Montgomery, Ala., polling place as they wait to cast their ballots in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2000. (Dave Martin/AP)

In one of its most anticipated cases of the year, the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday takes up the question of whether to overturn key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As electoral law expert professor Richard Hasen puts it, the smart money is on the court striking down parts of the law.

It’s a case that pits the Obama administration and voting rights activists against conservatives who for years have been looking to challenge the law.

The Obama Justice Department argues that the Voting Rights Act is still needed.

The law requires places with a history of discrimination such as the Deep South to get Justice Department clearance for any voting changes, such as moving a polling place or changing voter ID requirements.

But Shelby County in Alabama argues the law is outdated because the South has changed and the Voting Rights Act unconstitutionally targets only a few states for federal monitoring.

Have things changed enough since 1965 to make parts of the Voting Rights Act unnecessary?
Let us know what you think on Facebook.


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  • J__o__h__n

    The theory that because Obama was elected this law isn’t needed is flawed.  How many of the southern states voted for him?

  • http://twitter.com/JohnnyFroggg J Frog
  • Bonnie Strom

    If all that has transpired in the states of Ohio, Florida, and other states where long lines were created by shortening poll hours, and shutting down polling places (longlines, shortened voting days/hours) and what the GOP are presently trying to do vis a vis “vote reapportionment”, in the state of Michigan; though Obama won the popular vote, NATIONWIDE, with the gerrymandering and apportionment of votes (only two other states presently apportion votes by congressional district – Nebraska and Maine) Romney would have won Michigan – if your policies aren’t popular, then your default strategy is to rig ELECTIONS!!!  A democracy is a participatory process – we should be trying to encourage more voting – not decrease voter participation.  If anyone still believes that we can “do away with” the “Voting Rights Act”, in the state of Alabama/  Section 5, if they think that because an African-American is in the White House, and that everything is fair, and there is no longer a need for oversight in the nine covered states, under the “Voting Rights Act”{or any heightened need for oversight of our elections, generally} they should see, “AMERICAN BLACKOUT”, (here’s a documentary that might change some minds) and see what occurred in the state of Georgia, to then Congresswoman, one, Cynthia Mckinney!!!!  They should look at what has transpired in Florida, in the state of Florida, in the 2000 election; Choicepoint/DATABASE technology INC., (an Atlanta-based firm, was contracted by the GOP, from Texas, and Florida) was paid four million dollars, by the Republican party to concoct an inaccurate “list”, a “voter roll” that’s sole purpose was to expunge duly eligible citizens from voting, based on the color of their skin, and predilection for not voting for Republicans. To produce a voter’s list,  that would deny Black and Latino voters’ from casting ballots.  Have them declared, ‘FELONS”!!  If your name was, “John Smythe”, then when you went to your polling place, J.C. Smith would be told that he’d lost his voting privileges.  Other voter nullification efforts, included telling people that they could only vote “provisionally” – these “provisional” ballots would then not be counted, oftentimes.  Manyeligible voters were duly denied their right to vote, in this manner, a travesty, and a national tragedy.    If we want to have, “jim Crow”elections, this is the surest way I know of, to bring that about!  To prevent people from voting, (because you don’t like the outcome when they vote, because your policies are that unpopular) it’s not only UNAMERICAN, it’s EVIL!!!!

  • Erica W

    80% of your listeners may have a driver’s license, house, and car, and think that’s normal.  Of course it is – but being ‘normal’ is not required for citizenship.  There’s a big difference between what’s normal for you, and what’s a practical standard for every single citizen to meet.
      If you can’t drive or don’t own a car, you are in the minority.  Plenty of people live by using buses, shuttles, or sharing rides with (for example) other seniors or able-bodied neighbors.  Does this make them any less a citizen? 
      Many listeners may never have experienced difficulty obtaining a photo ID.  When my now-husband became injured after a few years of unpaid volunteer work, we spent over 2 years trying to get him a bank account, passport, and other basic papers.  Under homeland security these things now require 2 photo ID’s, and he had only 1.  His DMV non-driver ID wasn’t considered the same as a driver’s license under the new rules.  Recovering from being hurt, he was in shared housing and someone else paid the utility bills – no proof of address.  Since he’d lived within his means before the accident and didn’t have any debt, he didn’t have a credit card, or even a bank card.  (He’s also not that good at balancing checkbooks, and prefers to use cash.)
      Homeland Security measures have made it more difficult to get ID’s, especially if you’re not ‘normal’ enough to carry proof of employment, driver’s license, and credit cards.  For the majority this works fine – but as we noticed in the last election, a ‘minority  not worth catering to’ can be as large as 47%. 
      A homeless citizen or non-driver may be a born-in-the-USA citizen or even a veteran, but if it takes three tries to accumulate enough paperwork to get a basic ID, and they keep changing the rules, that’s a big chunk of your life to spend on something as abstract as voting rights. 
      My husband was removed from voter rolls just prior to the 2008 election, because of some confusion over whether he was in prison.  His name was once used as an alias by someone who was later incarcerated.  Try to clear up that in time for the election, when you get the notice less than a month before they close registration!  It’s not easy to get back on the rolls in time to vote, and it’s far too easy to get disenfranchised.
      I know the current system is not perfect.  But making it more difficult to change the rules or polling places – that seems like it’s going to protect a lot more people than it hurts.

    • aknman49

       “…being ‘normal’ is not required for citizenship.”————————-
      A constant refrain I keep hearing from those Voter ID-law proponents is that you need an ID in order to drive a car, cash a check, or rent a movie.  But of course, driving a car isn’t intrinsic to our democracy and cashing a check is not a Constitutional right.  

      That is an argument — arguably an unconvincing one — that discusses the issue without addressing it.  I’m more worried about election fraud than voter fraud and yet conservatives never obsess about that aspect of “voting rights.”

  • http://twitter.com/JohnnyFroggg J Frog

    We can give every citizen a social security cards (you need one to work, to pay taxes or to be claimed on taxes) but we can’t get photo ids to the few percent that don’t have them?  Mexico apparently wants to protect their voting process.  Why can’t we?

  • Dan

    I know that because the president is black it means that all racism has been totally wiped out in all of America, but would it hurt to extend these laws for another 50 years?

  • Kevinmhadley

    It seems to me like this might be nibbling around the edges as step toward taking down the Voting Rights Act altogether. If you can’t bring down a law in its entirety, then take it apart one provision at a time. It is the same strategy being used against abortion rights.

    First you pick a part of the law where you can make a reasoned argument where some in the general populace may agree with you in some small way. Use that to push the door open and then stick your foot firmly in. Then go on to the next “reasonable” argument.

  • Nbxmike

    According to to the reports, Massachusetts has the worst ratio of African American turnout against white turnout at elections, and the greatest disparity in voter registration.  Why doesn’t someone investigate what is obviously the criminal conduct of Massachusetts’s efforts to repress voting rights?

  • robeyw

    If a  Photo ID is to be required to vote, what is it’s purpose. I figure it is to establish that the person is permitted to vote. In general I figure it is to show that the person is who he claims to be, but when Indiana started requiring that a person supply a birth certificate to establish his name, place, and date of birth I found from direct observation of people getting their ID that their footprint was not being checked  with that on the birth certificate, so there is no way to show that the person showing the certificate is the person who’s birth is certified. In other words the name, place, and date of birth are not established. Given this, what is it’s purpose for voting? voter suppression?  Even if the footprints were carefully checked, there are probably people that did not have their footprint recorded at birth, so there is just no way of tracing all people back to birth and the effort is a deception which should be aborted.

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