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Only 1 part of Voting Rights Act was found to be no longer relevant

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

This is in response to Bernadette Loesch's letter in the September 12 Sun:

Bernadette, I have to say I find your take on the GOP's motivations in regards to voter rights to be interesting, if misguided and uninformed. Your take on the Supreme Court's decision to strike down one provision within the Voting Rights Act as a repeal of voting rights laws and protections is paranoid at best. Either you didn't understand Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the Supreme Court decision, or both. This is something I have addressed below, but first let us go over the points you brought up in your letter in the order you presented them:

1. "We are witnessing many, many states cut back on the number of days for registering to vote." Really, which states? Even with the so-called 'Motor-Voter' laws out there that allow registering to vote on the day of the election? As long as the person registering to vote can prove they live where they say the live — the same criteria required for 'regular' voter registration — then how is this a problem?

2. "Requiring a valid I.D. in order to vote." Everyone should be concerned with voting and maintaining the legitimacy of elections at local, state and national level. When ineligible people can vote with impunity it puts the entire electoral process into question. Those ineligible to vote include non-citizens, convicted felons (unless they've had their voting rights restored by the court), non-residents voting in districts where they do not reside, and those voting using absentee ballots that aren't theirs. Having to show an ID to prove you are who you say you are is a means of ensuring the legitimacy of the process. Valid IDs are NOT difficult to obtain despite claims to the contrary. Remember, you already have to have them to cash checks, receive government benefits, apply for credit, register to vote, and a whole host of other activities that no one seems to find burdensome.

3. "Many voter district lines have been redrawn (better known as Gerrymandering) in order to assure that a particular senator or representative doesn't have a snowballs chance in hell of having an honest race with real competition from the other party." This has been going on since 1812. Every 10 years district lines are redrawn to reflect the change in population as defined by the census. If you think it is only Republicans Gerrymandering, you are sorely deluded. Democrats are just as good, if not better, at redrawing district lines to benefit their party while locking out the opposition. In fact it was Democrat Elbridge Gerry, governor of Massachusetts, who redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his party. This is where the term Gerrymander comes from.

4. "Some states cutting back on 'Vote by Mail'." No, states aren't cutting back on absentee balloting (the so-called 'vote by mail'). Where did you got this idea, out of thin air? What states are trying to do is to improve the system. There are two problems involved with absentee voting at present, both which disfranchise eligible voters: fraudulent ballots obtained by using someone else's name; and absentee ballots not being sent in a timely fashion, which prevents them from being filled out and returned by the due date. This last one has been a problem for a long time and particularly for members of our armed services, denying them their constitutional rights, the very same rights they are protecting.

5. "Assigning 'Poll Watchers' to make sure that only people qualified to vote are able to cast their ballot." You act as if this is something new. It is not. It has been around for a very long time, is not a partisan device, and is used in places where voting fraud has been a problem. In some cases poll watchers have been court-appointed in districts where rampant fraud and voter intimidation has affected elections. (Philadelphia's 20th Ward during the 2012 election is but one recent example.)

Let me ask you the following, Bernadette: If voter ID is such a bad thing, then why do a large majority of the American people (75 percent) support it? This is according to a Washington Post poll run back in early August. (You can look it up yourself.) You accuse the GOP of "trying to eliminate as many voters as they can", yet all they really want to do is reduce the number of ineligible voters from committing voting fraud. How is that a bad thing?

The five things you listed as "evidence" of "borderline voter fraud on a massive level" are indicative of your ignorance of history as they have not been a GOP-only issue by any means. They are are not evidence of any wrongdoing by either party.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I must address your mistaken belief that the U.S. Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act. Only one part – Section 4 – was found to be no longer relevant and unconstitutional. It required only some states — not ALL states — to put forth to the Department of Justice any proposed changes to their election laws. Why should such a provision pertain to only a few states and not the rest?

Back when the Voting Rights Act was passed (1964) some states had laws that made it difficult, if not impossible for black Americans to vote. The states listed in Section 4 were sanctioned in order to make sure that any changes in their election laws did not disfranchise eligible voters for any reason, and particularly race. Those states now have some of the highest voter turnout rates for minorities in the nation. So why did they still have to submit changes to election laws to the DOJ? That was the argument brought before the Supreme Court in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, Attorney General. This is 2013. Stop acting like we're still stuck in 1963 and that Jim Crow still holds sway in the South. Or do you have so little faith that we've somehow managed to move past that part of our history and that minority voters will once again be locked out of the voting booth? If you do, then the problem is with you and not the rest of the nation, and certainly not the GOP.

Dale Channing Eddy