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View Diary: Has a GOP SCOTUS decided to undo the Voting Rights Act? (Judge-drawn Texas map stayed) (22 comments)

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  •  And so it begins! (7+ / 0-)

    We have been down this road before.  The first black person was seated in Congress in 1870, and while the Reconstruction Era ended in many ways within a decade thereafter, black people continued to have meaningful political particpation in much of the South for another couple of decades.  It wasn't untl George Henry White lost his seat in the House of Representatives from North Carolina in 1901 that the last vestiges of political liberty for people of color had disappeared in the South.

    The first black persons to be elected to Congress from the states of the former Confederacy in the modern era were Andrew Young (from Georgia) and the late Barbara Jordan (from Texas) in 1973, eight years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Now, we are seeing massive efforts to undo the gains achieved by that historic act -- not only in the South, but also in the North.

    Taken in isolation, this decision might not seem so sinister, since Republicans have actually been at the forefront of packing as many minorities as possible into a few "safe" majority minority districts, and thus creating as many safe Republican districts as possible.  But this decision is NOT coming in isolation -- it's coming in combination with efforts to adopt voter ID laws which have a vastly disproportionate impact upon members of minority groups.

    I recently saw that under a new Georgia law, voter registration applications must have a photocopy of a suitable ID stapled to the application.  This will, to anybody who has ever done voter registration work, virtually preclude the type of voter registration campaigns in which I have participated.  During the last election cycle, I registered literally hundreds of new voters, mostly African-Americans, by going door-to-door.  It is patently impossible to push a photocopy machine down the street to comply with this requirement -- and that is clearly the point of this requirement.

    And then there's the "disenfranchise Prairie View A & M students" law in Texas, under which all kinds of state-issued photo ID's are permitted to be used in voting (including concealed carry permits), but in which student ID's issued even by state schools (such as Prairie View A & M) are not permitted to be used.  Lots of college students don't have cars (especially college students of limited income), and therefore don't have drivers licenses.  And in my experience, not too many college students have concealed carry permits.  There can be little doubt that this law was intended SPECIFICALLY to disenfranchise college students, especially poor and minority college students.

    The inroads will be small at first, as they were during the Reconstruction period.  But they'll gather steam with the passage of more and more laws that seem to be "minor" impediments to minority voting.  And then, when enough such "minor" impediments have been erected, more major ones will follow.

    If anyone thinks racism is over in this country, just look at the comments on any Yahoo news story about the First Family.  They will turn your stomach!

    I'm a white guy, but this is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. I'm old enough to remember the Civil Rights era.  I was present in the Senate gallery with my parents on a vacation to Washington in 1964, when cloture was invoked on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and when Senator Claire Engel was wheeled in, literally on his death bed, to cast his "aye" vote -- which, since he had lost the ability to speak in his battle against brain cancer, was cast by pointing to his eye.

    I was a Republican then, when being a Republican from Central Illinois still meant, at least for some of us, being a member of the Party of Lincoln.  I remember doing a voter registration drive in a public housing project in Bloomington, Illinois in 1968, and telling the story to my College Republican club of registering an elderly black man who had recently arrived from Mississippi, who had tears in his eyes as he signed his voter registration form, and said, "Finally, I feel like a real American!"  And I remember the sneering response from one of the "Young Americans for Freedom" types about why had I registered somebody who would probably vote Democratic, and my response which was, "If the Party of Lincoln can't find a way to appeal to black voters within 60 miles of where Lincoln spent most of his life, maybe we don't deserve their votes."

    I changed my party registration after Ronald Reagan opened his general election campaign in the most disgusting manner possible -- with a speech in Philadelphia, MS, of all places, praising "state's rights."  (For those who are too young to remember those ugly days, Philadelphia, MS is the county seat of Neshoba County, where the four civil rights workers were brutally murdered in 1964 with the complicity of local law enforcement for registering African-Americans to vote, and where the Mississippi authorities for decades resolutely refused to prosecute anybody for the crime.)

    PROUD to be a Democrat!

    by leevank on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 02:45:46 AM PST

    •  this state school ID thing was in indiana first (5+ / 0-)

      I saw this disenfranchise students first hand while on the ground in 2008.

      Had a girl registered to vote in indiana, who had come to indiana state from another state, come into the campaign office sobbing because she tried to early vote and wasn't allowed because she didn't have an indiana drivers license.

      the girl needed a birth certificate to change her drivers license to indiana and if she changed her drivers license it would have screwed up her car insurance through her parents.

      It was also too late for her to register to absentee vote in her home state.

      This was all because the Indiana law didn't allow state school IDs to count as voter identification. Eventually Indiana University printed new IDs for students with their social security numbers on them to make it able for students to vote and I believe Indiana State came to do the same thing after huge problems on campus but they only started printing the IDs on THE DAY OF VOTING so who knows how many got disenfranchised regardless.

      I still think about that girl I met during early voting and wonder if her vote counted in 2008 or not.

    •  You are my hero! eom (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      divineorder, Lujane

      Never underestimate the ability of the Right to overreach.

      by never forget 2000 on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 06:29:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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