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The Voting Rights Act

I have been watching the debate over the renewal of the Voting Rights Act on C-SPAN and to say it is a friggin’ bigot parade is an understatement. One white GOP cracker after another coming up and trying to parse attempts to gut the bill as common-sense measures of "restraint."  Really, it is Jim Crow all over again

Everyone who goes nuts any time the word Diebold is mentioned should be screaming loud and long over this.  The attempt to disenfranchise voters, particularly African American voters (consistently reliable Democrats) has had a long and ugly history within the Republican party and there are four really nasty wingnut amendments being debated. Steve Gilliard has more on Rep. Steve King (who is trying to disenfranchise non-English speaking voters like American Indians) and Tracy Russo covers the topic well at the DNC website.  And here is Maxine Waters’ speech from the floor (on YouTube above):

Mr. Speaker and members, I rise today to stand tall for the re-authorization of the voting rights act.  Mr. Speaker and members, as an African American woman, member of congress i consider it my profound and welcome duty to use my voice and my vote to continue the struggle of the civil rights movement to guarantee the right to vote to African Americans and all Americans. 

Mr. Speaker, I have a difficult time explaining to African Americans all over this country why the congress of the United States has to continue to re-authorize the Voting Rights Act. the answer to that question is sad but simple and true true — discrimination. America, we stand before you today re-authorizing the voting rights act because we have to continue to have safeguards in law to prevent cities, counties, states, and other jurisdictions from devising laws, practices, tricks, and procedures that impede the right to vote by minorities in this country.

One may ask, "what laws and tricks are you alluding to?"  Mr. Speaker, in the past the tricks were poll taxes, literacy tests and voter intimidation.  Today and throughout the years the laws and tricks have changed but the game is the same.  Deny and prevent minorities from exercising the power of selection of candidates and laws by any means necessary. 

What are some of these tactics being used today in some jurisdictions in America?

Oh there are tactics like in Georgia, create the need for an identification card that you have to pay for, that is only issued by the state.  In Florida, create data bases identifying people as felons, people who have never ever been arrested before.  Change voting rights laws so that you create at-large districts rather than districts where minorities can be elected from.  Minority candidates get elected by districts and when you create these at-large districts you eliminate the possibility of getting elected. 

Place uniform guards at polling places to intimidate voters. The list goes on and on.  The voting rights act will guarantee pre-clearance of these attempted discriminatory acts and hopefully deny these kinds of actions.  I ask my colleagues — don’t disrespect the civil rights movement.  Don’t dishonor us.  Pass this voting rights re-authorization bill and show the world that America is sincere about democracy.

Not surprisingly this is a big issue for the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and it should be to all Democrats (who have, BTW, threatened to vote down the bill if any of the four regressive amendments are passed).    The fact that we should even be debating this matter is ridiculous and shows how much pull the rabid and the wingy have over the GOP.  It shows how far you can drag the dialog just by standing on the extremeties and screaming.  It isn’t even subtle.

(FWIW, the CBC is the only group willing to buck the DC incumbency protection racket and show up in Connecticut to campaign for Ned Lamont, and the Georgia ID card law noted above by Maxine Waters was drafted by Eric Ericskson of Red State.  Just so everyone knows where the lines are drawn.)

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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