Policy Round Up: Voting Rights

Thursday, February 28 2013 15:56 | Written by Shanel Adams

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is currently under scrutiny by the Supreme Court.  This section requires areas of the country with a history of discrimination within their voting process to receive clearance from the Justice Department before making voting law changes.

Issues of voting disenfranchisement were present during the 2012 presidential election. Many argued that state’s new voting-ID laws disadvantaged minorities and young people during the election.  As the Supreme Court re-evaluates the need for this section in the Voting Rights Act, experts of color share their opinion of the matter.

U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop shares that voting restrictions disenfranchise certain groups:

“As seen during the 2012 Presidential election, many states have enacted or proposed strict voting laws that impose unfair restrictions on eligible voters across the country. We cannot let any voter, especially students, the elderly, the disabled, minority, and low-income voters directly affected by these restrictions, be prevented from exercising their right to vote.”

Read the full article in Congressman Sanford Bishop's Media Center.

Timothy Lange argues that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act stopped discriminatory proposals from becoming law: 

“In December 2011, employing its authority under Section 5 , the federal government blocked legislation in South Carolina to impose a strict photo-voter ID law that the justice department said would disproportionately keep minority voters from the polls. Just this past August, Section 5 was used by the federal courts to stop a discriminatory Republican redistricting plan and a proposed voter-ID law in Texas. Without Section 5, those proposals and that redistricting would now be law.”

Read the full article in Daily Kos.

Chris McGreal challenges the idea that civil rights laws like the Voting Rights Act are outdated: 

“The challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act is part of a broader legal onslaught by conservatives against half a century of civil rights laws that Republicans argue are outdated because they have been successful at ending systematic discrimination. But liberal supporters of the protections say a series of court battles between conservative states and the federal government in recent years is evidence that the legislation is far from redundant.”

Read the full article in The Guardian.

Erin Fuchs suggests that if the Supeme Court does not keep Section 5, the Democratic party will suffer: 

“While it's clear some voters will suffer if the Supreme Court strikes down Section 5, election law experts have predicted the court's conservative justices will likely ditch the law. If that law dies, the Democratic party will suffer. Minorities gave President Obama a big boost in 2012, and have historically come out to vote for Democratic candidates. Any laws that potentially stop minorities from voting could hurt Democratic candidates across the United States.”

Read the full article in Business Insider: Law and Order.

Shanel Adams

Shanel Adams

Shanel Adams is an editorial assistant with GlobalPolicy.tv. She is a public relations major, political science minor at Howard University originally from Detroit. Shanel is passionate about poverty alleviation and political participation.

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