NYT: Uphold the Voting Rights Act
Sunday, January 25th, 2009
As we’ve discussed here before, the struggle to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a moment in American history that is near and dear to our hearts. And in the spirit of the Voting Rights Act the Why Tuesday? team strives to find solutions to increase voter turnout and participation in elections.
Some of the same rank-and-file that participated in the fight for Civil Rights, like Ambassador Andrew Young and our founder Bill Wachtel, are the Why Tuesday? board members that push us every day to keep on in the war on low voter turnout.
Today the New York Times takes a look at an effort in Texas to repeal a specific section of the Voting Rights Act, in the name of progress, and decides that the argument being presented is flawed and counterproductive.
Some people claim that Barack Obama’s election has ushered in a “postracial” America, but the truth is that race, and racial discrimination, are still very much with us. The Supreme Court should keep this reality in mind when it considers a challenge to an important part of the Voting Rights Act that it recently agreed to hear. The act is constitutional — and clearly still needed.
Section 5, often called the heart of the Voting Rights Act, requires some states and smaller jurisdictions to “preclear” new voting rules with the Justice Department or a federal court. When they do, they have to show that the proposed change does not have the purpose or effect of discriminating against minority voters.
In last fall’s election, despite his strong national margin of victory — and hefty campaign chest — Mr. Obama got only about one in five white votes in the Southern states wholly or partly covered by Section 5. And there is every reason to believe that minority voters will continue to face obstacles at the polls.
If Section 5 is struck down, states and localities would have far more freedom to erect barriers for minority voters — and there is little doubt that some would do just that. We have not arrived at the day when special protections like the Voting Rights Act are not needed.
We’ll keep on top of this story. To read the complete New York Times editorial, click here.