Difference between revisions of "Voting Rights Act"

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The '''National Voting Rights Act of 1965'''<ref>42 U.S.C. § 1973-1973aa-6</ref> authorized, and in some areas required, federal oversight of elections. Many (but not all) of these areas are in the South. Frequently amended, it imposes a complex system of regulations that include forcing local governments to print multilingual ballots at their own expense, in many different foreign languages.  It requires federal registration of voters in regions where less than 50% of minorities are registered.
 
The '''National Voting Rights Act of 1965'''<ref>42 U.S.C. § 1973-1973aa-6</ref> authorized, and in some areas required, federal oversight of elections. Many (but not all) of these areas are in the South. Frequently amended, it imposes a complex system of regulations that include forcing local governments to print multilingual ballots at their own expense, in many different foreign languages.  It requires federal registration of voters in regions where less than 50% of minorities are registered.
  
Simply put, it enables liberals in [[Washington, D.C.]] to block reforms such as voter ID sought by local jurisdictions in 16 states.  However, it should be noted that a three-judge panel allowed South Carolina's voter ID law to take effect (albeit modified by a state interpretation during the trial).<ref>''South Carolina v. United States'' (D.D.C. 2012)</ref>  The entire State of Texas was subjected to ongoing federal control of its elections for the indefinite future merely because Texas once printed its ballots in English rather than Spanish.  Texas has also had more objections to changes in its voting procedures from 1966 to 2004 than any other covered state.<ref>''Northwest Austin Mun. Utility Dist. No. One v. Mukasey'' 573 F.Supp.2d. 221, 281 (D.D.C. 2008)</ref>
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Simply put, it enables liberals in [[Washington, D.C.]] to block reforms such as voter ID sought by local jurisdictions in 16 states.  However, it should be noted that a three-judge panel allowed South Carolina's voter ID law to take effect (albeit modified by a state interpretation during the trial).<ref>''South Carolina v. United States'' (D.D.C. 2012)</ref>  The entire State of Texas was subjected to ongoing federal control of its elections until it successfully bails out of being a covered jurisdiction in part because Texas once printed its ballots in English rather than Spanish.  Texas has also had more objections to changes in its voting procedures from 1966 to 2004 than any other covered state.<ref>''Northwest Austin Mun. Utility Dist. No. One v. Mukasey'' 573 F.Supp.2d. 221, 281 (D.D.C. 2008)</ref>
  
 
==Politics==
 
==Politics==

Revision as of 22:37, 11 December 2012

The National Voting Rights Act of 1965[1] authorized, and in some areas required, federal oversight of elections. Many (but not all) of these areas are in the South. Frequently amended, it imposes a complex system of regulations that include forcing local governments to print multilingual ballots at their own expense, in many different foreign languages. It requires federal registration of voters in regions where less than 50% of minorities are registered.

Simply put, it enables liberals in Washington, D.C. to block reforms such as voter ID sought by local jurisdictions in 16 states. However, it should be noted that a three-judge panel allowed South Carolina's voter ID law to take effect (albeit modified by a state interpretation during the trial).[2] The entire State of Texas was subjected to ongoing federal control of its elections until it successfully bails out of being a covered jurisdiction in part because Texas once printed its ballots in English rather than Spanish. Texas has also had more objections to changes in its voting procedures from 1966 to 2004 than any other covered state.[3]

Politics

The Act was passed by the U.S. Congress over strong opposition from the the southern wing of the Democratic Party; Democratic President Lyndon Johnson turned to Minority Leader Everett Dirksen for Republican support [4] to break the Southern Democratic filibuster. Dirksen spoke on the Senate floor,

The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing of government, in education, and in employment. It must not be stayed or denied. It is here!

The Senate never had been able to muster enough votes to cut off a filibuster on a Civil Rights Bill. The final count showed 44 Democrats and 27 Republicans voting to close off debate, with 23 Democrats and only 6 Republicans opposed. The formal Senate vote on the bill took place on June 19, 1964. It passed overwhelmingly, 73-27.

In the final house passage of the bill on August 3, 1965, the breakdown was 217 Democrats and 111 Republicans voting in favor versus 54 Southern Democrats and 120 Republicans voting against. The final Senate vote on August 4 was 49 Democrats and 30 Republicans in favor, one Republican and 17 Democrats opposed, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and 16 Southern Democrats. Southern Democrats who voted in favor of the bill on August 4 were Senators Albert A. Gore (who had originally voted against the Voting Rights Act in 1964) and Ross Bass from Tennessee, Mike Monroney and Fred R. Harris from Oklahoma and Ralph W. Yarborough from Texas. [5]

Sen. J. William Fulbright [6] who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton, and Sen. Al Gore, Sr., father of Vice President Al Gore voted against it.

Majority Leader Mike Mansfield said of the Republican leader, "The whole country is in debt to the Senator from Illinois."

The Act gives the Department of Justice the power to approve or reject any change in a voting law in certain districts where less than 50% of the population were registered to vote in 1964. In December 1989 a three-judge district federal court held Bill Clinton's state-wide legislative reapportionment plan violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. 1973. 1990 the Supreme Court of the United States found in the case of Clinton vs Jeffers [7] the former Arkansas Governeror and Democratic president had violated the Voting Rights Act. The Justices findings were,

Bill Clinton does not dispute here -- that "violations of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment justifying equitable relief have occurred in Arkansas."

In May 1990, the district court turned to those claims, holding that "the State of Arkansas has committed a number of constitutional violations of the voting rights of black citizens." J.S. App. A5. In particular, the court determined that the "State has systematically and deliberately enacted new majority-vote requirements for municipal offices, in an effort to frustrate black political success in elections traditionally requiring only a plurality to win." In 1990...Devotion to majority rule for local offices lay dormant as long as the plurality system produced white office-holders. But whenever black candidates used this system successfully -- and victory by a plurality has been virtually their only chance of success in at-large elections in majority-white cities – the response was swift and certain. Laws were passed in an attempt to close off this avenue of black political victory.

The court therefore concluded that

This series of laws represents a systematic and deliberate attempt to reduce black political opportunity. Such an attempt is plainly unconstitutional. It replaces a system in which blacks could and did succeed, with one in which they almost certainly cannot. The inference of racial motivation is inescapable.

The Act also outlawed literacy tests that once limited the right to vote in some areas to those who could read the ballot, as well as so-called "Grandfather Clauses".

Renewal

Although the Act is over 40 years old and addresses issues from the early 1960s and before, in 2006 Congress passed a 25-year extension without meaningful debate. 33 House members opposed the 25-year extension, primarily because of the imposition of multilingual balloting. Not a single senator, however, voted against it, and President George W. Bush signed it into law.

See also

References

  1. 42 U.S.C. § 1973-1973aa-6
  2. South Carolina v. United States (D.D.C. 2012)
  3. Northwest Austin Mun. Utility Dist. No. One v. Mukasey 573 F.Supp.2d. 221, 281 (D.D.C. 2008)
  4. Everett McKinley Dirksen's Finest Hour: June 10, 1964, The Peoria Journal Star, June 10, 2004, retrieved from The Dirksen Congressional center 05/20/07.
  5. [http://www.2facts.com/Ancillaries/index/h00619.asp
  6. Picking the Team, TIME Magazine, December 12, 1960.
  7. Findings of the Supreme Court of the United States in Clinton vs Jeffers No. 90-394 (1990) on appeal 730 F. Supp. 196, 198-201 (ED Ark. 1989) (three-judge court), aff'd, No. 89-2008 (Jan. 7, 1991).