An equal right to vote is at the core of our democracy. With an African American in the White House, it’s increasingly popular to believe that racial bias no longer exists, especially when it comes to voting. There’s no doubt that our nation has made significant progress in securing equal opportunity, but there’s still a long way to go. That’s why it was so important that the Supreme Court left in tact a key provision of the Voting Rights Act earlier this week. In reauthorizing this part of the Act, Congress reviewed a mountain of evidence showing that, unfortunately, voting discrimination is still a significant problem—especially in those places that were previously segregated by law.
A large, bi-partisan majority of Congress reauthorized the Act after hearing evidence about the hundreds of recent cases in which states, cities and counties denied or suppressed African American, Latino, or Native American votes. They heard of elections rescheduled or cancelled to prevent black workers and students from voting, of election districts intentionally drawn to dilute Latino voting strength, of polling places selected in remote locations to discourage minority voting, of false prosecutions, intimidation, and more. The evidence was from the last decade, not from the 1950s, ‘60s, or ‘70s.
To be sure, these tactics are are more subtle than the fire hoses and violence of past decades. But without continued enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, they would have denied the equal right to vote and, thereby, struck at the heart of our democracy. Things have changed—in large part because of the Voting Rights Act—but the Supreme Court correctly determined that this is not the time to walk away from the civil rights guarantees that protect us all.
Read more at The Opportunity Agenda website.