And this is what happens when you gut the Voting Rights Act

In late June of 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, stating that the provision, which, for almost 50 years, had required that certain areas of the country with dismal civil rights records obtain approval from the Justice Department or a special federal court before changing their voting laws, was unconstitutional. [Justice Scalia, one of the five conservative justices to vote in favor of striking down this particular component of the landmark civil rights legislation, has described the Voting Rights Act in the past as, “the perpetuation of a racial entitlement.”] Well, today, we’re beginning to see the results of this decision, which Georgia congressman John Lewis, an African American who had fought for equal rights alongside Martin Luther King, called at the time “a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act.” In Alabama today, it was announced that 31 Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) locations in predominately black areas of Alabama would be closing, making it more difficult for people of color to acquire the identification required to vote… The following comes from The Nation:

…(Alabama) is shuttering DMV offices in eight of the 10 counties with the highest concentration of black voters. Selma will still have a DMV office but virtually all of the surrounding Black Belt counties will not. “Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed,” writes John Archibald of the Birmingham News. “The harm is inflicted disproportionately on voters who happen to be black, and poor, in sparsely populated areas.”

…Alabama describes the closings as a cost-saving measure, but the impact has clear racial and political overtones. Writes Archibald:

“Look at the 15 counties that voted for President Barack Obama in the last presidential election. The state just decided to close driver license offices in 53 percent of them.

Look at the five counties that voted most solidly Democratic? Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes and Bullock counties all had their driver license offices closed.

Look at the 10 that voted most solidly for Obama? Of those, eight—again all but Dallas and the state capital of Montgomery—had their offices closed.”

This, for what it’s worth, is exactly what many of us thought would begin happening in the wake of the 2013 Supreme Court Decision. At the time, I asked the following on this site… “So, now what? With this central protection of the Voting Rights Act gone, shouldn’t we expect to see a rise, especially in the south, of racially discriminatory voting practices?.”

I guess, today, we got our answer.

And it’s our fault. We could have fought harder. We could have demanded that Congress step in and pass legislation to protect the Voting Rights Act once the Supreme Court made their decision. But we sat by and allowed the historic legislation to be gutted. And now we’re going to have to fight the grueling battles of the 1960s all over again… I wish we had longer memories. I wish we remembered how hard it was to fight for things like civil rights and the 40 hour work week. But we don’t. We don’t remember the sacrifices that were made by the people who came before us, like these two men protesting in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. And, as a result, we’re doomed to relive every bloody minute of it. Only, this time, we’re facing an opposition that is both better armed and better funded.


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  1. K2
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Just in time to effect the outcome of the 2016 election.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    And the lines to vote in those communities will be five times longer than in white communities.

  3. XXX
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    This is also after Alabama changed their laws so that it’s much more difficult to vote without state ID.

  4. Demetrius
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    This seems really simple: If it is easier/more convenient to vote, more poor and lower-income people may actually vote. If enough of them do that, they may just have a majority (or strong plurality) capable of electing politicians that will actively support legislation (higher taxes on the rich, strong trade barriers, labor laws, environmental legislation with teeth, etc.) that run counter to the interests of the plutocrats who now own our political system.

    The 1% has obviously decided that this risk must be reduced … through creative gerrymandering, and laws that make it more difficult for the poor to vote.

  5. WT
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    It’s a lot easier to keep people from voting this way than it was standing in front of a polling place with an axe handle. This way people don’t mind so much.

  6. Eel
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Why not just cut right to the chase and reintroduce the concept of slavery?

  7. Lynne
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    FWIW, this happens in Michigan too albeit to a lesser degree. But trust me, go to any SOS office that serves a population likely to vote left and then go to a SOS office that serves a population that is likely to vote right and there is a striking difference in wait times.

  8. wobblie
    Posted October 2, 2015 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    “Why not just cut right to the chase and reintroduce the concept of slavery?”

    We never got rid of slavery. The 13th. amendments states;

    Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.[1]

    “except for punishment for crime…” drug war anybody?
    Just read today that South Carolina will begin paying prison workers min. wage. for the first time.
    Of course they will take most of that away as “restitution” for crimes.
    We have more slaves/prison laborers than at the time of the civil war. In the final days of the confederacy, the state took possession of all slaves ie. nationalized them. Our current penal system is quit simply state slavery.

  9. sb
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    since we know the tactics, that they will use. why not go back with them. go out to the affected counties. and bus, carpool and get people to the dmv. we did it, when we wanted to vote. do it now. there is still alot of time left. stop waiting for the courts,to make something happen.

One Trackback

  1. […] of course, knew that this was going to happen. When the Supreme Court moved to gut the Voting Rights Act in 2013, we knew what the Republican game plan was going to be. We knew that polling places in […]

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