Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Voting Wrongs

The most political Supreme Court in history - yes, including its immediate predecessor the Rehnquist Court of Bush-Gore infamy - at least has a sense of drama and timing. No question that the evisceration of key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were dropped today because the story will be overshadowed tomorrow by the marriage rulings.

The framing seems to be that marriage is the civil rights fight of the present, while race is the last generation's fight -- you know, black president and all that. But as anyone voting in a racially polarized Alabama or Mississippi could tell ya, it ain't over.

The tl;dr of this 5-4 ruling seems to be be: Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires federal "pre-clearance" of election law changes in places with historic patterns of discrimination, is itself OK, But Section 4, the map of those places, was tossed out, so now the map is... no place. And Congress is supposed to fix it... and could.... but won't.

I'm so many hours behind the curve on this that I'm just going to load the tweets in sequence and annotate them.

Arizona was one of only two non-Confederate states fully covered by pre-clearance, (the other was Alaska) and as their recent track record shows they're not exactly friendly to the Spanish speaking community despite Governor Jan Brewer's Pollyanna quote, "bad things that took place decades ago don't take place any longer."

The map drawn fifty years ago, rather, a hundred and fifty years ago, was still pretty accurate.
Si. Say goodbye to bilingual ballots. Say hello to literacy tests -- English Only of course. Not to miss the opportunity:
Saddest tweet of the day:

I had the honor of hearing John Lewis speak once. I was close enough to see the dent that's still in his forehead, from when his skull was broken on the Edmund Pettis Bridge. Making it sadder, Nelson Mandela is on his deathbed.

Nelson Mandela voting.

April 1994: The line to vote for Nelson Mandela.

Followed soon by:


The case for photo ID is a soundbite. The reality of historic patterns of discrimination, and disproportionate impacts, are more complex and subtle.
But one thing unlikely to change
That's because those districts serve Republican purposes by concentrating the Democratic vote into majority-minority, 90% districts. These districts, which first popped up in 1992, were a huge factor in the 1994 House Republican takeover. Instead of diluted black votes electing, say, three moderate Democrats out of central Alabama, they got one African American Democrat and two VERY conservative Republicans.
See these articles, written in the more hopeful era of this past weekend, about local Democrats, even black Democrats, winning in Mississippi and about the future hopes of turning Texas blue.

Here's hoping tomorrow will be a much better day for civil rights. But even if it is, we can't forget today.

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