The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will take up a look at whether the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is still constitutional.
It seems that some people think that just because Barack Obama was elected President of the United States disenfranchising minorities is thing of the past. If anything, Obama’s election renewed the boldness of those bent on disenfranchising groups of people.
Now, I am not hung up on voter id laws – I show my ID for everything it seems, including depositing money in my bank accounts. Yes, depositing and not just withdrawing.
Since 2011, 41 states introduced 180 restrictive voting laws. We are not just speaking of voter id. Laws passed restricting voter registration, early/absentee voting, and making it harder to restore voting rights.
According to the Brennan Center, the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin passed a total of 25 voting laws.
The State of Florida went really far by trying to block community based voter registration drives, reducing early voting days, and reversing prior laws that allowed ex-felons to restore their voting rights.
In the end, Florida’s attempts to interfere with the election process fired up its citizens. The 2012 election became only the 4th time since 1972 that Florida gave its electoral votes to a Democratic candidate.
Why should we be concerned about the Voting Rights Act of 1965? Because courts used the law to block or blunt some of the voting laws passed for the 2012 election.
Shelby County, Alabama sued in 2010 under the belief that Section 5 of the law is not relevant in the 21st Century. Section 5 requires federal approval of any changes to election laws.
“Things have changed in the South,” Shelby County’s attorney Bert Rein wrote. “Voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.”
The states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana are covered under Section 5. Louisiana and Mississippi decided not to join the lawsuit. In fact, the State of Mississippi defended Section 5 as necessary and beneficial for minority representation.
What do you think? Are laws for federal oversight of election laws in the South irrelevant in 2012?
Before you answer, check out the racial makeup of these state legislatures (the people who will make the laws):