We’ve had multiple internal conversations here at the ACLU over the last 6-12 months regarding the renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Key provisions of the act expire next year. For the most part, the conversation hasn’t reached a simmer in the public. Until now.
Renewal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, once a sure thing, hit another bump Thursday as House Democrats threatened to vote against it if any changes by Southern conservatives were added.
I’m having a mind blank over why we needed the VRA in the first place. There was a group of people behaving badly, blocking the right to vote, that led to the VRA. Who was it? Oh, that’s right. Southern conservatives.
“By passing this rewrite of the Voting Rights Act, Congress is declaring from on high that states with voting problems 40 years ago can simply never be forgiven,” said Rep. Lynne Westmoreland, R-Ga.
How ironic. The same day that Rep Westmoreland said this, a federal judge blocked a photo ID requirement in- say it with me- Georgia.
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Georgia law requiring voters to present government-issued ID cards violated the United States Constitution by discriminating against minorities, the poor and the elderly.
E.R. Shipp of the NY Daily News nailed it:
There were already longstanding – and of course, totally off-base – Internet-fueled rumors that blacks would lose their voting rights in 2007. So it does not help that Congress has failed to renew key portions of the Voting Rights Act. They’ve had time to vote on flag burning and gay marriage, mind you, but not on this.
Here we Americans are preaching about, and dying for, democracy in Iraq and other foreign lands. But we have shown ourselves to be hanging-chad-challenged when it comes to carrying out elections. Think Florida. Think Ohio. Think Georgia, the state of my birth, where new rules requiring state-issued photo identification are expected to make it harder for rural, elderly and minority people to vote.
During the civil rights movement, people fought for the right to vote so their children and grandchildren wouldn’t have to. Unfortunately, they do.
Andy in the HBG