NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

July 1, 2013

Quick action from Congress needed on voting rights

Congress under George W. Bush, in 2006, voted overwhelmingly — 98-0 in the Senate and 390-33 in the House — to extend the Voting Rights Act, including the existing preclearance provisions for certain states, for another 25 years.

Yet, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to effectively halt enforcement of the 1965 act, which requires advance approval of changes in voting laws in places with a record of discrimination.

In 2006 and again in 2009, the court told Congress to revise the VRA because it has not changed for nearly five decades. Congress was also to study how states and jurisdictions were subject to preclearance. The VRA mandated that some states, as well as counties in other states, were subject to special federal enforcement in an effort to make sure that racial discrimination against voters was not affecting their rights at the ballot box.

The VRA, in our opinion, worked to bring about greater participation by minorities in the voting process. It is indeed one of America’s great civil rights advances.

Yet Congress simply kicked the can down the road and now the Supreme Court, with last week’s decision, is kicking it back. In doing so, it sets up the perfect storm for potential chaos.

The VRA was founded on discrimination against blacks. Discrimination hasn’t gone away, but we acknowledge that its victims may have changed as well as the way the preclearance should be handled.

Unfortunately, the current Congress seems so polarized that it would be incapable of updating a voting rights law.

Congress must quickly move forward to protect voting standards and thwart changes to state laws that will make it difficult or impossible for individuals to vote, whether that be because of race, religion, gender or age.

Until then, we fear we no longer have a champion at the polls.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans