As minorities gain electoral power, Supreme Court asks: Why the Voting Rights Act?



As minorities gain electoral power, Supreme Court asks: Why the Voting Rights Act? (via The Christian Science Monitor)

Is it time, after nearly 50 years, to gut the Voting Rights Act? That’s the question the US Supreme Court is poised to take up in a case out of Shelby County, Alabama, in which local officials, backed by a bevy of Southern states, will argue that federal oversight of polling stations primarily in…



         

Author: Guest Voice

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  1. They also cite the zest with which Republican legislatures in the South focused on voter fraud ahead of the election, despite studies that show voter fraud continues to be exceedingly rare.

    We’re clearly a long way from being a post-racial society. The VRA is as necessary now as when enacted. Those who want to see it go away need to have their motives laid open.

  2. To Justice Roberts: I live in NC, not even Alabama or South Carolina, and I can tell you (as well as the polling data can tell you) that the South is not there yet. Ending the VRA now (only after ~50 years) would be too preemptive. Things have changed, but they haven’t changed significantly. What they’re suggesting to do is to call the game at half time just because the score’s close.

    To answer the question of the article: I want to know that when the demographics shift and white people are in the minority, that I am afforded the same rights as those now that could be disenfranchised. This is certainly not to say that all minorities will seek to limit the white vote – but I wouldn’t put it past a few terrible individuals seeking what they perceive as revenge. Allowing there to be polling place watches could benefit really anyone in the future as we go into demographic limbo.

    Note: I’ve briefly scanned the language of the VRA (http://www.law.cornell.edu/usc.....%E2%80%93A) and it appears to essentially protect all people.

  3. To clarify, things have changed significantly in the voting process in the South but not in the minds of individuals who live here.

  4. Steadystate I also live in the South and you are exactly correct. Certainly not everyone who lives here is a racist but there is enough of the old attitudes left that continuation of the VRA is required. Without it I fear it wouldn’t be long before we drifted back to the problems that existed before it was enacted. It’s obvious what the motives are of those who wish it gone. The GOP in Texas put repeal in their platform this year. With changing demographics Latinos will soon be the majority and repeal of the VRA could have unintended consequences. Old white guys could find that laws they passed to repress others are now being used to repress them.

  5. Federal law and the Constitution would still protect all the rights and all the people in every State. The VRA gives the Feds undue control over state functions without any need to show any violations, or any need for that exercise of control.

  6. Ellis, this was true before the VRA was enacted. But the problem in the past was that individual states would successfully be challengd in court over these abuses but then simply tweaked state law so they could continue the same abuses under a new guise. It was a never ending cycle. It was finally concluded VRA was needed to fix the problem once and for all. The reason for VRA was the failure of states to protect their own citizens. Remove the VRA and I have little doubt the old abuses would return.

  7. Something i do not understand, but hesitate to admit for am sure every one else must understand it, but here goes the question.

    Why is there not a standardization of voting laws throughout the United States? I understand there are State elections but why not have every State with the same fixed guidelines and laws for all the aspects of voting?…We have standardization for light bulbs with little controversy… why not elections?

  8. Ordinarysparrow, the problem is that it makes to much sense. All politics are local according to Tip O’Neil. Where it makes sense the locals want to take advantage. I’m originally from Nebraska (one of two people in the world that admits as much), who allocates electoral votes based on the popular vote, and has a single housed legislature based on the same principal. How horrible if the rest of the country were organized the same way.

  9. But the problem in the past was that individual states would successfully be challenged in court over these abuses but then simply tweaked state law so they could continue the same abuses under a new guise. It was a never ending cycle.

    First this is the first time I’ve heard the cause phrased this way so could you give a few examples that would be within the 10 years before enacting the VRA because I’m not convinced and even so it’s obvious that the situation is not the same now as it was 30 years ago. That is the point of the op. Try and find a State wide candidate in Texas who is openly anti Latino. It just doesn’t happen because no one wants to alienate such a large segment of the pop.

  10. EEllis, sorry but it’s still going on in the Lonestar state even today. The courts found that Texas as of a few months ago are still discriminating against blacks and latinos.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08......html?_r=0

  11. First this is the first time I’ve heard… could you give a few examples… I’m not convinced… Try and find a State wide candidate in Texas who is openly anti Latino. It just doesn’t happen……

    Modern racists work very hard not to be “openly anti – any minority but all you need to do is open your eyes and they can’t be missed.

    A few recent examples:

    1. Republican held states regularly trying to rewrite their DISCRIMINATORY voter suppression ‘laws’ because Federal judges rule against them… How many times this year alone EEllis?
    2. .

    3. Arizona (my state) Republican lawmakers that keep trying to rewrite their DISCRIMINATORY racial profiling laws because Federal judges rule against them… How many times in the last two years EEllis?

    Tell me why “that’s different”… If you can.

  12. EEllis, sorry but it’s still going on in the Lonestar state even today. The courts found that Texas as of a few months ago are still discriminating against blacks and latinos.

    It’s a little more complicated than that and sure the districts were most likely drawn to make more and stronger Republican districts but is it that you want to disenfranchised Hispanic voters or ensure Republican districts? Because I can find plenty of stories where Dems have done the whole redistricting thing also. Abbott (our AG) freely admits the redistricting is to help Republicans, but again maps draw with Dems in power would of course help Dems. This does seem like everyday politics and when past the political rhetoric I’m not sure why I should believe some States need extra Federal over site. What was more important that they were dems or that they were Latino? Clearly in this day and age it was Dems. Also this really doesn’t seem to meet your definition of “simply tweaked state law so they could continue the same abuses under a new guise.”
    You may take the voter ID law and the “reworking” of that law as an example but what in several other States has been judged legal has been held in violation to the VRA in Texas. So should I assume it’s a discriminatory when in no state has there ever been shown any undo effect on minority voting due to any of the voter ID laws? Is it still acceptable to have courts say “maybe is good enough”?

  13. When I mention tweaking I speaking historically of what happened before the VRA was passed. Voter ID laws have one purpose to suppress voter turnout by certain groups and yes states that redistrict to prevent certain groups from having representation is the same old problem under a different guise. It doesn’t matter where it’s done or which party is doing it, it’s still wrong. The fact that efforts continue today by states to discriminate is the best argument for keeping the VRA in place.

  14. OS, the states give their electoral votes for the President in any way they see fit, within the Constitution. According to the Constitution, the President is the President of the states and is elected by the states, not the people. This is why states are free to divide up their votes by popular vote or give them all to the person that wins by 1. Naturally, the all or nothing variant gives those states more weight.

    How would things have looked had every state been forced to split their electoral votes by their popular votes?? Things would have been much more interesting.

    The EC has to go.

  15. Voter ID laws have one purpose to suppress voter turnout by certain groups and yes states that redistrict to prevent certain groups from having representation is the same old problem under a different guise

    I’m sorry but you state that like it’s fact and it simply not. Are some people for ID laws because they believe it might suppress voters from certain demographics? Maybe but I am also positive that others voted because they thought it would suppress illegal voting and still others because it would help insure confidence in integrity of the voting system. Saying it’s only possible purpose it to illegally suppress voting is willfully close minded. In addition even after several election cycles and all the cries not only has no one even come close to showing that it has any effect on voter turn out in any demographic never mind an undue burden on any specific group. Now that does not mean I think the laws are particularly effective, but that they are obviously not the bar to voting many claim.

    In addition the VRA is about race. If a State redistricts to ensure Republican majority it’s legal. If they do it because they want to disenfranchise Latinos it’s illegal. What do you think Republicans were worried about here? And again why not just have the same courts handle it without the VRA? Also your statement about the purpose of the VRA was that States used, and I’m extrapolating here, little tricks and loopholes to try and disenfranchise minorities changing laws just ahead of the courts and requiring constant legal action. You just haven’t backed that claim up or shown that because of that reason the VRA needs to continue.

  16. EEllis, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. I guess your position is the VRA should be eliminated as the abuses it intended to correct only rarely occur now. I’m just not convinced the states wouldn’t quickly start backsliding if it was removed. I don’t think its coincidental that the states that would like it gone are also the same ones that had all the abuses in the past.

  17. Well, yes, because only some of the states are covered but lets be honest things have changed a bit since the Act was established in 1965. I freely admit things were bad and the issues had to be addressed, maybe even if it took using ordinarily unconstitutional methods. The question is, is it that bad now?

  18. And as a note I’m not saying the VRA should be eliminated, It’s that it over reaches in some areas and should be uniformly applied in others.

  19. I guess your position is the VRA should be eliminated as the abuses it intended to correct only rarely occur now.

    I’m not surprised to hear ‘wing-nuts’ argue this week that the Voters Rights Act should be overturned because abuses only occur rarely even though just a few weeks ago these same fine folk were arguing that restrictive Voter ID laws were needed because, though voter fraud only occurs rarely, it does occur.

    No… I’m not surprised at all.

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