Supervisor for the Second District in Los Angeles County
Six months ago, a federal court ruled that electoral maps drawn by the Republican-dominated Texas legislature were nothing but optical illusions of equality. On paper, they looked as if they were Latino voting districts; in reality, they still favored candidates preferred by white voters and were struck down by the U.S. District court in Washington, D.C.
That's August 2012 -- not August 1965.
Even today, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 remains the final defense against exclusion of minority voters.
The legacy of the Voting Rights Act is a powerful one.
The election and reelection of President Barack Obama was achieved by a diverse coalition of voters that would have been unimaginable just one generation ago. In both races, the president won the majority votes of Latinos, Asian Americans, African Americans, Catholics, Jews, women and young people of all ethnicities and races. Furthermore, studies show that on a national level, the African-American voter turnout rate in November may actually have surpassed that of white voters. According to a study by the Pew Research Center conducted shortly after the presidential election, blacks, who make up 13 percent of the electorate, appeared to have had a higher turnout rate than any other ethnic group or race.
Yet the legacy of segregation and racism also persists.
The democratic action generated by the Voting Rights Act has provoked a virulent anti-democratic reaction.
The Obama-haters and sore losers of fair elections are now blaming the Voting Rights Act for their inability to win popular support. They seek to undermine the Voting Rights Act by manipulating election rules and voting districts, or by challenging the act's provisions in court. Their misleading premise is that threats to minority voters have faded out of existence.
If anything, today's realities call for expanding the reach of the Voting Rights Act. Were the legislation being enacted today, Ohio, for example, would be a prime candidate, due to its vigorous efforts to keep blacks from voting.
After a chaotic process and long lines in the 2004 presidential election, Ohio expanded early voting to 35 days before the presidential election. President Obama's campaign used this time to build a big lead over Senator John McCain, and so what happened next? Ohio Republicans cut back early voting to 11 days and eliminated Sunday voting (Souls to the Polls), when African-American churches historically rally their congregants to vote.
Read more at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-ridleythom...