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Virginia Wants Out of Voting Rights Act

Virginia Wants Out of Voting Rights Act

Most civil rights challenges to voting come in the form of claims of specific disenfranchisement at the polls.  But redistricting efforts are a much bigger threat to minority voting rights and receive special attention by the Department of Justice, particularly in those states with histories of systematically trying to disenfranchise entire minority populations.

Virginia is such a state.  But, according to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, (R) his state has “outgrown” its institutional racism and should therefore be exempt from the redistricting requirements of the Voting Rights Act.  Under the law, Virginia (along with eight other southern and western states) must have their redistricting plans “pre-cleared” by the Justice Department in order to ensure that those states are not discriminating against racial minorities when they draw new political boundaries. 

Cuccinelli is just one voice in a growing conservative chorus intent on undermining the Voting Rights Act and removing federal protections for minority voters.  Conservatives already brought one challenge before the Supreme Court in NAMUDNO v. Holder, attacking the pre-clearance requirement in the statute.  The Court ultimately upheld the requirement with a vote of 8-1 (Thomas as the lone dissenter), but there’s no reason to think that the Roberts Court, if given the opportunity and with better facts, wouldn’t take the teeth out of the Voting Rights Act.

Virginia and the other states who face pre-clearance have a long and detailed history of racial discrimination in application and enforcement of voting laws which is why they are subject to Department of Justice oversight.  And Congress passed Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act specifically because of that history.  It’s impact is undeniable and to lose those protections would have the effect of sending this country backwards into Jim Crow era voting laws where minorities faced little opportunity to participate in our democracy.

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photo courtesy of hjl via Flickr

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53 comments

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10:18AM PDT on Jul 30, 2012

AH, Texas-Florida-Virginia,etc.,etc.--seem to be Very Angry that some of the American People are finally voicing their Distrust of their 'elected' ('Bought' would be a better word) officials. Isn't it funny that it's mostly southern states where Hated & Racism are alive and well.
If they get any more control, we may as well rename this Country to : The KKK States of America - b/c there certainly has Not been any kind of United Front for a Long Time!

7:27PM PST on Feb 2, 2011

Virginia, you stupid, stupid state.

Sending the state backwards towards Jim Crow is EXACTLY what Virginia wants. Sorry, the rest of the country won't let you.

7:03PM PST on Dec 21, 2010

Virginia will in my humble opinion be in the dark and need supervision by the citizens who care about people and the federal government for their civil rights until the end of time.There is no sign of a change only hate and greed.

6:39PM PST on Dec 19, 2010

Virginia has Democrats controlling it's Senate.... The line may actually come out better than they are now. The only concern I have is indeed the Governor.

9:08AM PST on Dec 13, 2010

I agree, Lindsey. That's the way it should be and that's pretty much what I was thinking as I read the article. It seems every other year the district lines get redrawn here, the last time was to cut out a poor district from an upper middle class one. Determine the size, set up a grid and draw lines, best wat to do it.

5:23PM PST on Dec 11, 2010

The way districts are drawn can create some abysmally odd-shaped districts. I think there should just be a rule that each state's districts must be drawn on a straight-line grid (to the extent possible), with each district being essentially the same size and shape. And whoever lives in that district votes in that district, whether they're white, black, or anything else.

Drawing of districts shouldn't be done to ensure that any group of people has an artificial majority.

4:39PM PST on Dec 11, 2010

If they're not racist, what's the problem?

7:24AM PST on Dec 11, 2010

Linda W. Looking at the state of the country now, what kind of catastrophic are you 'hoping' for that will cause people to wake up?

3:24AM PST on Dec 11, 2010

Frankly, I think the Aussies have it right...MAKE people vote. I've spent many years on GOTV efforts, and finally retired this past year. In my unhumble opinion nothing is going to change in this country until something catastrophic happens :-(

2:50AM PST on Dec 11, 2010

The south needs education, not redistricting.

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