Thursday, March 12, 2009

Unmentionables: Clintons Effort Voter Suppression

What voter suppression efforts was the author of this piece referencing? Hillary Clinton's objection to caucus voters in Las Vegas casinos?

No, hint hint. Perpetual charges that reviewing and 'purging' ineligible names or fraudulent names from the voter rolls somehow prevents voters from exercising their right to vote.

Net the Truth Online

Vote Dilution Claims Get Setback, But Reason For Hope Remains
posted by: Jessica Pieklo
Despite evidence of record turnout in the November 4th election, news this week confirms that this country has far to go in protecting the right of all its citizens to vote. First is a report from the Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, a consortium of more than 150 university researchers. The CCES report found that four to five million voters failed to cast a ballot in the November election as a result of registration problems or because they did not receive absentee ballots. This is roughly the same number of voters disenfranchised in the 2000 election.

Second is the 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court, issued Monday, limiting the scope of protections provided by the Voting Rights Act. Section 2 of that Act seeks to preserve minority voting power in the face of redistricting efforts that would have the effect of diluting minority votes. The decision now provides that only election districts where minorities make up at least 50% of the voting-age population are entitled to protection from vote-dilution redistricting efforts.

The North Carolina district at issue in the case had been redrawn in 2003 in an effort to preserve minority voting power in the face of changing demographics and legal concerns regarding the shape of the district. North Carolina officials settled on a combining two parts of a county to create a compact district with about 39% representation of black voters. The Court rejected this compromise district but also sparked a heated debate among the Justices about how best to protect minority voting rights without entrenching racially polarized voting.

The significance of the decision is not the potential to minimize the amount of districts that now receive protection from vote dilution efforts, though the effect of this decision could be significant in elections to come. Rather, the real significance of the case is the insight in provides to another major voting rights case pending before the Court.

That case deals with the "pre-clearance" Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That section requires certain state and local governments to obtain permission from the Department of Justice or a federal court before making any changes to any laws that pertain to voting. Those that fall under the mandates of Section 5 have a long history of racially-motivated vote suppression efforts.

Certain members of the Court, most notably Chief Justice Roberts, have indicated they would welcome any opportunity to remove the federal government from state and local election efforts. They point to the election of President Obama as proof positive that this country has remedied any history of minority voter exclusion. Of course, this view entirely disregards efforts, as recent as the November election, to suppress voter turnout in districts heavily populated with minority voters.

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