American Voting Rights: Erosion or Modernization?

American Voting Rights: Erosion or Modernization?

American Voting Rights: Erosion or Modernization?

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) struck down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act where certain specified states and counties are required to get federal approval (“pre-clearance”) when changing election rules due to their histories of racial discrimination.

There is a lot of outrage over this decision.  For many on the left, this is being viewed as a major erosion of civil rights.  Understandably so, these were hard won rights in a time of great necessity.

However – to be fair – the Supreme Court didn’t strike down the need for pre-clearance, but instead struck down the formula that is currently being used to determine which states require that pre-clearance.  The current formula takes into account voter registration and election turnout…from the 1960s.  The Supreme Court argued that this is not reflective of today’s realities and sent it back to Congress to redraft.

To that I say “fair enough.”  It makes sense that the Law should reflect who we are now – and be equal for all states, not just some.

That being said, there’s no question that racism still exists – just as all other “–isms” – we saw examples of it across the U.S. during the last presidential election.  Here in Ohio, and other states, we saw billboards placed in minority neighbourhoods that appeared to be using scare tactics under the guise of preventing voter fraud.

However, if we don’t acknowledge progress made, doesn’t that just breed a different kind of resentment?

“The Fifteenth Amendment is not designed to punish for the past; its purpose is to ensure a better future.” – Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, Attorney General, et al.

How I see it, the real problem is that this has to go to Congress to be fixed…I’m not holding my breath.  They are currently incapable of doing, well, just about anything.

So, in reality, it’s now up to those southern states and counties to prove that they are truly beyond their so-called “sins of the past.”  And it is also up to the electorate to keep them honest.

Invariably, the legislation of civil rights should lead to equality – and equality means no special treatment.  Now is the time for America to show maturity and growth particularly in those states that have had problems with racially-restrictive voting measures in the past.

As I’ve said before, you can’t legislate the hate out of people.  However, in terms of progress made, perhaps it is time to test the strength of that progress.  See if it actually worked; otherwise how can you know if it’s a real difference that’s been made or just a legislated difference.

Erin Drushel

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