hearts and minds

August 31, 2013

Protection of Voting Rights in 21st Century America

Voting rights are basic to all human rights. Violations of voting rights are violations of the core principles of democracy, and of government that should be of, by, and for the people. Violations have become more widespread in the USA than just the states that were originally listed in the landmark, and essential 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was so (tragically) belatedly enacted to finally enforce the basic human rights provisions of the 14th and 15th Amendments a century after those Amendments were ratified.

The fact that coordinated efforts by “smart ALEC” politicians and their fat-cat bosses to trample on voting rights have now emanated from so many other states – including my own state of Wisconsin – is necessary and sufficient reason to require the undiminished federal oversight protections that were provided by the original Voting Rights Act to cover not just some, but ALL of the states. The recent Supreme Court ruling that parts of the Voting Rights Act, enacted half a century ago, and renewed regularly in succeeding decades by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress, are suddenly and somehow now “unconstitutional”, defies the clear and pragmatic lessons of history (including very recent history). That ruling runs exactly opposite to the direction that America should be taking in continuing and strengthening our experiment in establishing this people’s government of the United States of America.

Making voting selectively more difficult, costly, inconvenient, or even impossible than it already is for certain groups or individuals, when (despite protracted efforts to ferret out such evidence) there is absolutely no evidence of any organized voter fraud that could be prevented by these selective measures, clearly violates voting rights. Organized, systematic efforts to do so are nothing less than a conspiracy to subvert democracy and the U.S. Constitution. An injury to the voting rights of one person, or of one demographic group, or of one community, is an injury to the voting rights of all Americans.

In order to repair the damage to our democratic republic that was just done by the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress must renew and strengthen the Voting Rights Act. But beyond that, we also need, at long last, a Constitutional Amendment that guarantees the Right to Vote to all citizens.

Related essays on voting rights, with additional references:


1 Comment »

  1. Well said. It is interesting and tragic that after only 50 years we have to revisit and renew.

    Comment by Marjit T. — September 3, 2013 @ 6:36 pm | Reply

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