Despite the very unfortunate fact 5 of the Supremes are being served, on yet another silver platter, a way to help their political friends skew elections…
And despite the high probability that, if I’m reading the main partisan intent of the majority of the Court right these days, they will take that silver platter and serve up to states with the worst records the right to violate voting rights…
Despite all this, their friends and conspirators on the Right who hate The Voting Rights Act have two, partially valid, points here. Yes…
1. The enforcement was always been designed as a bit arbitrary and thus has had Equal Protection implications: only certain states are subjected to the strictest enforcement, otherwise enforcement from state to state was flaky, or none at all.
2. The Act is too race specific these days. Not because we now live in some miraculous, prejudice free, voting rights respecting, Nirvana: just the opposite. And certainly not because living in a time when we finally have our first African American as president “proves” all’s solved, as some claim. But “too race specific” because the kinds of violations have become multifaceted: spread across society like a mutating virus: therefore, in some ways, worse. We have so much more to be concerned about. This amounts to an unequal protection problem because we are not equally protecting others whose rights are being violated. The worst violators have learned their lesson well: not to stop violating, but to multiply the kinds, types and intended targets of said violations. If they can prevent as many people from voting who might not vote their way, that is what they will endeavor to do. It’s no longer about just hating any race beyond reason: it’s about hating anyone who dares to disagree with the extreme Right beyond reason and preventing them from voting too.
Now as far as the fact that Barack Obama is president being any kind of “proof” that the Act is no longer needed? Nonsense: no more than John Kennedy becoming president “proved” that prejudice against Catholics had suddenly vanished. Or… no more than the election of Lincoln “proved” slavery was no longer a problem because there was a new president with a less favorable opinion on slavery.
Often, historically, such problems only get worse when America votes for an Obama or a Lincoln: like the increased attempts to deny the vote all over the country since Obama became president, or the attempt to gut any law that might protect a large part of his constituency, or like, oh say, The Voting Rights Act? It can get a whole lot worse like, oh, say a Civil War?
But selective enforcement and equal protection remain big problems, constitutionally. That’s every reason not to get rid the Act.
When you have districts, side by side, that vote different ways and one gets the best voting equipment every election, and the most time to vote, and the other the opposite every election: you don’t have less of a voting rights violation problem. You have more of a voting rights problem.
When special interest groups target groups of voters “SMVW:” “suspected might vote the wrong way,” and consistently challenge these profiled voters, or call/write to tell them to vote the wrong day, or wrong place: you don’t have less of a voting rights violation problem. You have more of a voting rights problem.
When politically connected voting machines companies have proprietary software, and votes get siphoned off to another state to be “counted,” or whole districts are shut down and only one party gets to look at the tally: you don’t have less of a voting rights violation problem. You have more of a voting rights problem.
Yes, all this, and more, gives us every reason to expand and improve the Voting Rights Act to cover all the attempts to circumvent and destroy our voting rights: the right to vote being a basic right, as per the 15th amendment, not some “entitlement” as defined by one justice.
Yes, all this, and more, gives us every reason to stop enforcing voting rights in a few states, but to enforce them in all: wherever such violations are reported and have occurred in the past. If we can make people take off shoes at airports and pat them down, certainly a TSA like approach to making damn sure voting rights are respected is as important to the survival of our representative form of government.
To me the violations of the rights of voters are so widespread that punishments for violating a rewritten Act should go beyond just fines. Intentionally trying to deny the vote should be prosecuted like terrorism and organized crime, using RICO standards and how we treat suspected terrorists.
Think that a bit offensive? So do I. Rendition, Gitmo: I’m all for either charging those held and putting them through the regular justice system. I loathe RICO. But if these are the standards under which we prosecute organized crime and treat those that might have something to do with terrorism, then all those are the standards we should use to prosecute those who plot and organize to sabotage our country’s vote.
The vote is the core of our representative form of government. Attempts to attack those rights are therefore attempts to destroy a very important part of our country. And conspiring to violate would be an act of organized crime.
Want to bet, applied firmly and in a very public manner, all these bad actors would vanish into the traitorous woodwork from whence they crawled?
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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