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?