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50-Years Later, People of Color Still Struggling to Get Equal Voting Rights

Written by Jae Jones

Although it has been 50-years since the passed and some may feel that America has come a long way, there are still hurdles for people of color at the voting polls. The Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965 by Lyndon B. Johnson. It was not an open arm welcoming, Johnson feared hostility would arise from the signing of the Act. During that time he ordered federal workers be deployed to well-known hostile counties in the Southern states to register voters. It was then the voter registration jumped from 29 percent to 52 percent in a two year period.  Most people thought of it being a positive step in the right direction. But, the new revelation is people of color are still being discriminated against at the polls. There have been several violations of the Voting Rights Act at the polls over the last few decades. According to News One, Julie Ebenstein, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project said, “There’s no longer literacy tests, property requirements, but when you look at the information that we have today — who votes during early voting, how you can remove the exact days African-Americans vote, or who uses same-day registration, and how you can attempt to remove certain voters from the electorate — these are still very high hurdles and strong barriers against people casting a ballot, and they should be taken just as seriously as prior forms of discrimination.”

In 2006 a big part of the Voting Rights Act was torn out, Section 5. Although, there were attempts to put it back, the Supreme Court struck it down.  Under Section 5 a state would have to show that laws are not discriminatory before they implement them, and now the situation is plaintiffs need to show that laws are discriminatory and are a violation of a person’s election rights. According to the Huffington Post, “Sections 2 and 5 also differ substantively in how they judge whether a law restricts minority voting rights. Section 5 compared what the position of African-Americans would be under a proposed change of election procedure with their current position, while Section 2 considers whether an election law would, in effect, disproportionately affect minority voters compared to white voters.”

In places such as North Carolina who feel that their voting rights have been violated, the plaintiffs are asking for a federal judge to reinstitute the pre-clearance regime for the state under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act.  Under Section 3 a court will require pre-pre-clearance of a state’s election law changes once it has found that the state knew and intentionally discriminated in a current case. People in North Carolina are claiming that lawmakers knew that were disproportionately likely to vote early, vote out of precinct and use same-day registration. It will be a long battle for North Carolina plaintiffs to prove this because they just do not have the same ammunition as other states, such as incriminating emails or statements. Other states have had such evidence to pop up showing that they did violate people of color voting rights.  So for now it seems to be a battle for people of color to get the same voting rights of their counterparts White Americans. Read more



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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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