Why Voting Rights Act Must Stay Intact

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Donna Brazile’s editorial points out her concern that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act might be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.  We can infer by comments by swing vote Supreme Court justices, John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy, that the legislation is in trouble.  In a society that has elected a black president with the ironic name of Barack Hussein Obama, shouldn’t we assume that we have entered a post-racial society where acts of racial discrimination are objects of our past?

On the surface, one would say yes, but that clouds a picture that suggests a more sinister scenario.  One can point to Florida where disgraced former Republican chairman, Jim Greer, highlighted concerted efforts to suppress the black vote.  Of course, there will be those that say his credibility is shot due to his unethical behavior.  However, what if he is not?  One would think that in protecting such an important right that we should proceed with extra care and caution in ensuring that no one’s rights are infringed.

When Roberts points out that voter turnout among minorities was heavier in Mississippi than Massachusetts, that is possibly accurate.  However, one of the reasons behind the heavy minority turnout was partially due to anger at efforts in disenfranchising vulnerable voters.  While critics will suggest that restricting voter rights will minimize fraud and legitimize elections, one must balance those benefits with the costs of disengaging people from the political process.

When looking at evidence of voter fraud, there have not been any legitimate studies suggesting that it is a significant problem.  However, we can quantify the costs of limiting early voting and minimizing the times that voters can vote.

How about this for a novel idea?  Instead of going through extreme efforts to convolute the voter registration process across states, how about redirecting those energies to crafting a message that will have broad appeal?

Voter ID Laws Keeping Some from the Polls


4 thoughts on “Why Voting Rights Act Must Stay Intact

  1. Well said. I am wary of any removal of protections for voters…there isn’t any harm in leaving them intact.

    I was recently surprised to realize that even in the northern states like New York, there were early attempts to suppress voting. (Maybe I should have paid more attention in history class). I’ve just been transcribing an unusual document from 1811 from a town in Staten Island, New York showing the hoops that free blacks had to go to in order to vote. http://bit.ly/XYjHcN

  2. I believe only males and property-owners should be able to vote (just kidding, of course). Voter fraud still exists, and hurts everyone. I’m not involved in any type of election-monitoring, but a quick search of the web shows papers reporting an Ohio poll worker admitting to voting twice (and maybe up to six times!) to 143 voters in Chicago from the same address (a vacant lot!). There’s nothing wrong with a voter ID card. We must show ID to cash checks, use credit cards, etc. The cards are provided at no cost. Is this ID-requirement just something to complain about? Every honest citizen should rally for voter ID. Unlike colonial days, where everyone knew everyone by sight, voter ID is a must today… And, for Pete’s sake, gov’t should use a camera that takes a decent, recognizable photo. They have cameras that can read a license plate from space (almost)!

    • There are more issues than just voter ID cards. However, we must also recognize that the cost is not always free. There are some who must incur extra cost to providing documentation to get a free state ID card. States can limit the hours and days for extended voting, making it harder for people to vote if they work during the week. As for voter fraud, it does exist, but to what degree? In deciding whether this was a good decision or not, we need to determine if the benefit of minimizing voter fraud exceeds the cost of disenfranchising voters. It is difficult to measure that, but I would err on the side of protecting the right to vote.

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