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A Modest Proposal on Voting Rights

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act, upholding the principle that States must be treated equally under the Constitution when it comes to new voting legislation they enact, but people, in relation to their exercising their voting rights, not so much; there’s a real need for proposals to make Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act operative again by re-writing Section 4. Here’s a modest proposal.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Baynes Johnson

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Baynes Johnson

I call on Congress to reconstruct Section 4 to require that all States must submit new legislation changing voting their voting rules to the Justice Department for pre-clearance. My proposal has the following great advantages.

First, it can be drafted in a single page bill that everyone can understand.

Second, it would prevent the clearly discriminatory voting legislation recently passed, or currently being proposed in many American States.

Third, it treats all the States absolutely equally, while having the likely long-term impact that equality for individuals across States in voting will be increased.

Fourth, it complies very well with the Supreme Court’s latest reasoning about Sections 4 and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Fifth, it can’t pass the Senate without getting rid of the filibuster; so it places further pressure on Harry Reid to get rid of that noxious anti-democratic practice.

Sixth, this is legislation that people can really believe in and get behind; so politicians who advocate for it will be on the right side of popular sentiment and the advance of democracy.

Seventh, if the Congress sits on the proposal and fails to pass it, then this can be a compelling issue for the campaign of 2014, providing a great basis to mobilize people to come to the polls to elect people committed to saving our democracy.

Let’s get behind this, immediately, and let’s not take any hostages, or allow any compromises, Let’s get complete voting rights equality for everyone, no matter where they live in the United States.

(Cross-posted from New Economic Perspectives.)

Photo from Bill Abbott licensed under Creative Commons

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Joseph M. Firestone, Ph.D. is Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director and co-Instructor of KMCI’s CKIM Certificate program, as well as Director of KMCI’s synchronous, real-time Distance Learning Program. He is also CKO of Executive Information Systems, Inc. a Knowledge and Information Management Consultancy.

Joe is author or co-author of more than 150 articles, white papers, and reports, as well as the following book-length publications: Knowledge Management and Risk Management; A Business Fable, UK: Ark Group, 2008, Risk Intelligence Metrics: An Adaptive Metrics Center Industry Report, Wilmington, DE: KMCI Online Press, 2006, “Has Knowledge management been Done,” Special Issue of The Learning Organization: An International Journal, 12, no. 2, April, 2005, Enterprise Information Portals and Knowledge Management, Burlington, MA: KMCI Press/Butterworth-Heinemann, 2003; Key Issues in The New Knowledge Management, Burlington, MA: KMCI Press/Butterworth-Heinemann, 2003, and Excerpt # 1 from The Open Enterprise, Wilmington, DE: KMCI Online Press, 2003.

Joe is also developer of the web sites,,, and the blog “All Life is Problem Solving” at, and He has taught Political Science at the Graduate and Undergraduate Levels, and has a BA from Cornell University in Government, and MA and Ph.D. degrees in Comparative Politics and International Relations from Michigan State University.