Forty-nine years after we passed the Voting Rights Act, Republicans continue to wage a brutal war on the vote with restrictive Voter ID laws, heavily gerrymandered electoral maps, reduced or eliminated early voting. They eliminate voting places in the name of “saving money” with the result that it can take hours for voters to journey to their newly designated voting places – which by coincidence are inaccessible by public transportation.
Republicans wage war on the vote because when voters show up, Republicans lose.
Throughout this battle, Republicans framed the debate as an attempt to improve the integrity of the vote.
The fact is in person voter fraud is statistically non-existent. The only people who are guilty of threatening the rights of eligible voters and the election system’s integrity are Gerry Mander and Jim Crow II.
Numerous studies over the years proved that Gerry Mander and Jim Crow II disenfranchised eligible voters who, by coincidence, are more likely to vote Democrat.
This battle will be on going as long as there is a political party that benefits from a heavily restricted voting pool. That’s why most Republicans in Congress are perfectly happy to do nothing to address the Supreme Court’s ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act.
They know that the absence of the pre-clearance formula seriously weakens the law. It means red states can pass vote suppression laws and the only means to stop them is through time consuming and costly court challenges. Yes, it can be done, slowly and it means that some eligible voters will be disenfranchised.
Meanwhile, there is a bill that would resurrect the pre-clearance formula. However, it is languishing in Congress because pre-clearance is a vote suppressor’s worst enemy.
The fact is we have to keep fighting for the vote. When we fight, we win. When vote suppression measures are challenged in the courts, we win – even in states where Republicans rule the roost.
We can help people register. We can help get out the vote at election time. We can help voters get to the polls. We can vote out anti-vote Republicans. We can support voting rights groups who are challenging state laws that suppress the vote.
Civil Rights Groups are petitioning Congress to do its job. We can sign the petition, which reads:
Over a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. Now states and localities around the country are making changes that will discriminate against voters based solely on the color of their skin or the language they speak. And voters will feel the impact of these changes this November.
Congress must protect all voters by passing the bipartisan Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA) to restore the VRA and provide modern, nationwide protections against discrimination at the ballot box.
Since the VRAA (HR 3899/S 1945) was introduced this January, the Senate has held one hearing on the bill, and the House has failed to act. Inaction is not an option. Every day Congress fails to live up to its constitutional obligation to protect the right to vote, it gives a free pass to voting discrimination.
In Ohio, voting rights groups are fighting to make voting a constitutionally protected right under the state constitution. As Jessie Jackson pointed out on Wednesday, “What’s not commonly known: We do not have the fundamental constitutional right to vote. We have the states’ right to vote” He went on to say, “Every state has its own scheme of barring the vote, so what that means is (in) North Carolina, they can remove booths from college campuses — states can do that to suppress student votes.”
The same day, Cincinatti’s City Council passed a resolution supporting the proposed amendment to the state constitution.
Ideally, the right to vote should be protected in every state constitution and the U.S. constitution.
Image: Minority Counsellor