By: Roy Douglas Malonson
The harder we fight and the more advancements we make, the more they try to bend or change the laws to keep us away from the polls. The ballot box is under attack, at least when it comes to minorities and the right to vote.
Republicans across the country are pushing new voting restrictions aimed at, obviously, suppressing the Black vote, which triumphantly helped end Donald Trump’s reign of terror.
The one-two knockout punch that Stacey Abrams, Rep. Jim Clyburn and others delivered to the GOP has the party making “Hail Mary” attempts to ensure they are not beaten again, especially after all courts found no proof in Trump’s voter fraud allegations. So what are Republicans doing now? They are trying to block our basic right to vote, and if we are not careful, they will get away with it.
We, as Black people, usually just focus on the big-ticket elections, like presidential and mayoral races, but ALL ELECTIONS MATTER and ALL VOTES MATTER! You need to do your research and vote for your councilmembers, commissioners, school board representatives and any other leadership positions in your community.
What people don’t realize is that your elected officials make decisions on how much water goes in your commode, how much money you make, and how you eat, breathe and sleep. You pay taxes to support them to make decisions about you – so you need to make the right decisions about who you choose to represent you. You see what happened when Trump got into office, and if you look at it clearly, you see how many Black politicians actually agreed with Trump. Sometimes, even if they don’t say it outwardly, inaction can be considered being complicit. Are the leaders you have stood by standing up for you? Some right here in our own city are not. This is very dangerous for our future.
Today, state legislators in at least 43 states are considering more than 250 bills that would make it harder to vote. A plot is underway to suppress minority voters who overwhelmingly back Democratic candidates.
A recent case presented to the U.S. Supreme Court centered around two Arizona election laws that Democrats say discriminate against Native American, Latinx and African American voters.
One of the laws requires election officials to discard any ballots cast in the wrong precinct, and the other measure bans third-party ballot collection.
With the heavy population of Native Americans in the area, with only about 26% of them living on a postal route, it would be difficult for them to cast a mail-in ballot, and there are even more issues with getting the rural population to the polls. To assist getting ballots in, community and party activists collect absentee ballots from people who don’t have cars so that the sealed ballots can be delivered to a post office or drop box. The Republican-dominated state legislature wants to make such assistance a felony.
Trying to restrict those ballots is just another obvious method of voter suppression.
In the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting and lays out the standard for determining when it exists, Section 2 of the law says any measure which “results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the U.S. to vote an account of race or color” is illegal.
Chief Justice John Roberts essentially said that times had changed and that the law, in treating some states differently from others, was unconstitutional. But if you look back in history, Roberts was not favorable of the Voting Rights Act, dating back to his younger days as an aide in the Ronald Reagan Administration, when he unsuccessfully urged the president not to sign the amended law. Yet today, he presides over a 6-to-3 conservative majority on a court on the issue.
So who is really fighting for you?
Let us not forget, 56 years ago, John Lewis was nearly killed by Alabama state troopers on Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, alongside hundreds of heroic women, men and youth on what would become known as “Bloody Sunday.” His Voting Rights Act could be one of our best defenses.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Act is proposed legislation introduced after Lewis’ death. The legislation would restore parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, many of which were struck down by the United States Supreme Court in 2013 by Shelby County v. Holder. Particularly, it would bring back the VRA’s requirement that certain states pre-clear certain changes to their voting laws with the federal government. If enacted, this legislation would help protect voters from racial discrimination and voter suppression.
Can’t you see? History is beginning to repeat itself. We are not out of the woods yet! In fact, we will NEVER be out of the woods until all of our people understand the power of the vote. Every time we think we are getting closer, they (Whites) keep moving the goalposts. Lots of white folks still believe blacks have no rights in this country. That’s the bottom line and they are trying to take away our power to choose as a way to strike us down.
Don’t let them. Stay out front. Keep exercising your right to vote now more than ever and make your voices heard.