We Have a Black President, So Voter Discrimination Must Not Exist

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was created in response to the blatant racial discrimination occurring in mostly (though not only) southern counties and states. At the time, poll taxes and literacy tests were common to stop voting among blacks. The VRA codified policies to allow the federal government to ensure that “the right of U.S. citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude” and to regulate election processes.

There are three key sections to the VRA:

-Section 2 prohibits any rules or procedures which ban citizens voting on the basis of race, even if it wasn’t intentional.
-Section 4 indicates a formula, based on a history of racial discrimination and voter turnout, which decides the voting districts that are subject to the provisions of
-Section 5, which requires they get clearance before changing any of their voting conditions, commonly called “preclearance”

On Tuesday, June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled on Shelby County, Alabama v Holder, Attorney General, et. Al. Shelby County was seeking to have sections 4 and 5 of the act ruled unconstitutional and have a permanent injunction on enforcement. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that Section 5, the preclearance requirement could stand. What was deemed unconstitutional was section 4, the formula by which Congress determined who had to seek preclearance. In other words, the court says the government does have the right to require preclearance, it just can’t do it the way it’s been doing it for the past 50 years.

This means the Supreme Court has gutted protections for millions of Americans.

How did we get here?

Alabama, and by default, the city of Calera and county of Shelby, are one of the covered districts listed in Section 4 that must receive preclearance prior to any voting changes.

On August 26, 2008, Calera had its city council elections based on the new map in which the boundaries of the city increased the white voting population and decreased the black voting population from two-thirds down to one-third. They claim this was an unintentional consequence. Eric Montgomery, only the second African-American to serve on the council, lost his seat that he had won easily four years earlier. The Justice Department blocked certification of the results. A day before the elections, Eric Holder emailed the Calera city attorney a three-page letter that said, in short, the map was voided, due to the city’s inadequate tracking of the black population and failing to report the land annexations.  After a year of negotiation, Calera decided to throw out its map and created new districts, each with their own city council member. Eric Montgomery won his seat back.

That would have been the end, if it wasn’t for Edward Blum.

Edward Blum, a former investment banker who had unsuccessfully ran for Congress in Texas, was on a mission to challenge governmental policies that were based on racial discrimination – against the majority (aka, white people). He called up Shelby County’s attorney, Butch Ellis. Ellis agreed to the purpose of the Voting Rights Act, but felt the preclearance requirements were overreaching. He agreed to mount the challenge the Supreme Court decided on Tuesday.

With the SCOTUS ruling, this means Shelby County and every other state and district listed in Section 4 do not have to comply with preclearance requirements.

What’s next?

In the court’s view, when looking at the improved parity of minority voter registration, turnout and the election of minorities, especially African-Americans, to office, there are indications things have improved in the states and districts listed in Section 4. After all, we have a black president. All of which wouldn’t have happened without the Voting Rights Act.

Things have changed. Instead of poll taxes, we now have voter ID laws that have largely hurt elderly, poor, female and minority voters, making them unable to register or vote. We have huge disparities in polling locations, in which voters in minority areas are waiting upwards of six hours to vote. That’s not happening in largely white districts. Of course, there are still the gerrymandered districts that continue to be drawn along racial lines, which minimize the impact of minority votes.

Most of these things are occurring in states and districts listed in Section 4. Now, thanks to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department has little to no way to rectify these blatant measures of voter disenfranchisement.

But there is a solution. Congress can change the law.

That’s right, the same Congress in which a large majority has historically benefitted from disenfranchising the very voters the Voting Rights Act Protects, are now in charge of making it work.  That can happen. Right after they pass a budget, end the sequester and pass immigration reform.

If you do believe in unicorns, here’s what Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told the Huffington Post about Congress getting around to protecting the right to vote for millions of Americans:

“In fairness, I doubt that will ever happen. I just cannot imagine — I’m just being honest — Congress ever coming to terms with what they could agree on.”

Good luck, America. Good luck.

154 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 months ago

thanks for the article.

federico bortoletto

Magari...

Matthew Karlye
Matthew Karlye3 years ago

I wanted to share this video, reminded me of the ignorance of the present discrimination... Carlton from Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air From learns about discrimination...
http://9nl.it/Carlton-Learns-About-Discrimination/

If you enjoyed this post, let someone else enjoy… re-tweet, comment and share!

Scot Roberts
Scot Roberts3 years ago

I posted this in the other voting thread as well.....

I think maybe it's time to put voter ID cards into place. They should be just like a driver's license with a magnetic strip on the back. They are issued to voters after they prove eligibility to vote and they last possibly the rest of your life or whatever. You swipe your card in the voting machine, a screen pops up with the ballot in your district so you can vote anywhere in the country. Touch screen technology automatically tallies your vote. This ensures that people only vote once and are eligible to vote. When you finish, a hard copy pops out for you to keep.

The cards should be free to low income people and seniors and under $10 bucks for others. If you are legal to vote, you get a card. Just like a driver's license, if you lose it....get another one. If you're going to the polls....take it with you just like if you're driving you need to carry your license.

Now, there's nothing to keep someone else from using your card but remember, it can only be used once per election, so that's not a big deal. For shut-ins or remote people who can't make it to the polls, the absentee ballot still applies....or you can send a trusted relative or friend in to do your voting for you.

I welcome anyone's thoughts and suggestions.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Well congratulations Susan Z. on two of the most bigoted, racist posts I have read in some time. You should be really proud!

Susan Zitzler
Susan Zitzler3 years ago

The president is NOT Black, so stop calliing him that. He is half black and half white, he is mulatto.

Stacey Toda
Stacey Toda3 years ago

Sadly, discrimination always exists in some form or another.

Virginia Belder
Virginia Belder3 years ago

tyvm...

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Margaret G. - Very well said and insightful. Your green star is en route!

Margaret Goodman
Margaret Goodman3 years ago

Joe L., I really like your comments!

For those who say that no one alive today in the United States has benefited from the past enslavement of Africans, I beg to differ. Slaves and indentured workers built a great deal of this country.

Also, I have slowly come to realize that being white is a condition of unconscious privilege. Like most whites, I've never worried about where I could sit on a bus or in a movie theater; about whether I would be served in a restaurant or hotel; about finding needed medical or dental care; about being harassed just for walking or driving.