Will Congress Re-Authorize the Voting Rights Act?
The voting rights issue — like immigration reform — puts Republicans in a damned-if-we-do-damned-if-we-don’t position. If they just sit back and rejoice (silently) that the Voting Rights Act is dead, Democrats will have a volatile issue for the 2014 election.
Then again, if Congress does rewrite the Voting Rights Act so that it conforms to the Supreme Court’s objections, Republicans won’t be able to keep all those minorities, college students, elderly and low income voters out of the polling booth. What to do?
The Supreme Court overturned Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act — if I’m understanding correctly — because it discriminates against certain southern states. OK, so re-authorize the Voting Rights Act and change the wording so it applies equally to all fifty states. Presto! No more discrimination.
Ohio and Pennsylvania are every bit as guilty as any southern state for conjuring up one slippery method after another to keep non-white non-country-club-members away from the voting booth. Let’s make every state, north or south, grovel for federal approval whenever they want to block the vote or gerrymander even safer districts for their incumbent “representatives.”
Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen (Tennessee) was asked whether he thought Republicans would make any effort to revise Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act:
“Absolutely not. They want to thwart people’s right to vote. They’ve shown it regularly. All those voter ID laws, all the changes in precincts at the last minute, their redistricting processes….Do you think those people at the Republican National Committee who want to stop older people, African-Americans, Hispanics and students from voting … really want to put those states (that had been covered by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act) under the thumb of the federal government? Absolutely not.”
Can’t argue with that. But at least we’ll have a potent campaign issue next year.