Monday, July 10, 2006

Playing Games with Our Right to Vote

The Republican Party has been playing a manipulative shell game with American’s right to vote and there is no end in sight.

The Republican Party has been at odds with itself since the 1960’s when the Voting Rights Act passed.

The landmark legislation eliminated many prevalent discriminatory practices like a literacy test and created Department of Justice oversight for any state that was at least 5% African-American.

American’s are use to the idea of the “Right to Vote”, but until the 1965 voting rights act and three subsequent constitutional rulings, there was no right to cast a ballot for any person. Reynolds vs. Simms clarified the rule set in the case Baker vs. Carr, and one justice wrote, “the right of suffrage is a fundamental matter in a free and democratic society. Especially since the right to exercise the franchise in a free and unimpaired manner is preservative of other basic civil and political rights, any alleged infringement of the right of citizens to vote must be carefully and meticulously scrutinized”.

Since the late 60’s the US has even dictated foreign policy based on the rules of voting by dictating a just society gives every citizen the right to vote.

Why then has the United State stalled on renewing the Voting Rights Act?

According to the Miami Herald:
The renewal of the act was delayed weeks ago after some House Republicans questioned the validity of the `60s-era legislation, particularly some Southern states that argued federal oversight was no longer necessary.

Other Republicans questioned the need for language assistance for voters, among them Rep. Cliff Stearns, an Ocala, Fla., Republican who unsuccessfully pushed a provision that would have ended a federal mandate requiring foreign-language assistance. In Miami-Dade County, it involves providing ballots in Spanish and Creole, and in Broward County, ballots in Spanish.
With a recent ruling by the United State Supreme Court on Texas redistricting it is clear that federal oversight is needed and the rights of the minority are still at risk.

Republican leadership and Texas Congressional officials like John Carter think there is no racism anymore even when the Supreme Court has ruled that they have oppressed the rights of more than 100,000 voters. Lamar Smith wants to wait to vote until AFTER he has been elected chair of the House Judiciary Committee and has the ability to rule on the interpretation of the VRA.

Our nation and Congress has ruled to protect the rights of EVERY voter since 1965, and four decades later this Congress wants to renege on their promise to protect our voice in this democracy. Contact your Representative today and tell them to renew the Voting Rights Act today.

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