01 July 2009

How the Supreme Court got it right at the same time they got it wrong

The Supreme Court upheld the main tenants but narrowed the scope of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a vote of 8 to 1. The lone dissent came from the Supreme's only African American member, Justice Clarence Thomas. Oh, the irony.

While sidestepping the constitutional issue of the meat of the Act, in the majority opinion, the Court hinted that the Act may soon find itself on the chopping block (and you can count on the Republican party to spearhead efforts to chip away at the Act for years to come). But the Act is still needed. Racial inequality is an American reality. A President Obama has not heralded the emergence of post-racial America, yet the Court in all its insulated, isolated wisdom exhibited a collective queasiness about continuing to support what they seem to see as race-based politics.

Are they right? Are we past the point where the majority group attempts to disenfranchise the minority?

Hardly. Consider this. And this. This. Or perhaps even this. Can't forget this. But perhaps most disturbing of all is this:

The Pew Center on the States' Make Voting Work project estimates that while 39.8 percent of the general U.S. population of voting age cast ballots in 2006 elections, only 20.4 percent of the military population of voting age did so. That disparity exists despite surveys that show a very high interest in elections and voting among members of the military.

"Interestingly, of those military personnel that said they did not vote in 2004, 30 percent did not because their ballots never arrived or arrived too late to their duty stations and 28 percent did not know how to get an absentee ballot, found the process too complicated, or were unable to register," according to a Pew report.
From the Pew Center on the States and electiononline.org.

Voter disenfranchisement is rampant in America. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was intended to prevent the disenfranchisement of black Southern voters. And yes, it has changed the landscape of this country, both from a racial and a cultural standpoint. But it is not only still needed to protect voters from a return to the abuses of the past, but it is equally important that Congress broaded its scope to include other forms of legal, but morally questionable, partisan disenfranchisement.

Homeless veterans, overseas active military, the elderly, homeowners in foreclosure, newly registered voters, voters who have moved, voters who had their Social Security Number or Driver's License number entered incorrectly into state databases...all of us deserve to have our votes counted. We deserve better than to have partisan Secretaries of State purge us from the rolls of registered voters, from having partisan poll watchers challenge our votes, from having to submit provisional ballots, which may or may not be counted.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is not only still needed, it needs to cover more citizens at risk.

IMO, the primary voter fraud of the election of 2008 was the systematic disenfranchisement of legally registered and eligible voters--an act perpetrated by local and state government employees against their constituents.

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