The Voting Rights Act Continues to Encourage Political Ignorance

When the Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965, it was considered a cornerstone bill for civil rights. After all, what wasn’t to like?  Minorities would now be equally represented in government, they could vote without having to pay a ridiculous poll tax or take a literacy test, and institutional racism was essentially ended.  At least that was what I originally thought, until I saw how the Department of Justice has interpreted the VRA in a recent case, in which the election procedures of Kingston, North Carolina were declared unconstitutional.

Since Kingston is a community covered under Section 5 of the VRA – which mandates that areas with a history of voter discrimination must pre-clear any changes in election laws with the Justice Department – the measure was brought forth as a discriminatory case before the Department of Justice by the ACLU, in defense of blacks and minorities.  The judge ruled that holding non-partisan local elections was unconstitutional because it would ”likely reduce the ability of blacks to elect candidates of choice.”

Just try to wrap your head around that for a second.  This measure is incredibly insulting to the intelligence of the minority voter.  According to the court, it is critical for minorities to know what party their candidate belongs to; otherwise, they can’t vote without fear of voting for the wrong person.  The VRA ensures that minorities vote for the party that they are told to vote for.  That may not have been VRA’s original intentions, but it’s implementation today perpetuates that notion wholly.

The VRA has outlived its usefulness. The original purpose for the legislation was to ensure that a majority of adults in Section 5 areas were registered to vote, which was not originally the case throughout the Deep South. Now, with many of the areas above the 50% threshold, this legislation is no longer necessary; however, it is kept around so civil rights groups can sue governments for ambiguous reasons, such as not listing political party affiliations on the ballot.

According to this interpretation of the VRA, it is now discriminatory to take partisanship out of politics.

Is it really so difficult for an educated voter, regardless of skin color, to do a little bit of research on the candidates so they can vote with their own brain and convictions?  This incident harkens back to the old Tammany Hall machine of the 1800’s, when politicians would exchange favors for immigrants’ votes, which serves as the crowning example of cronyism in American politics.

The attitude of the courts is nothing short of an unspoken opinion that minorities cannot make decisions on their own and need to be told who to vote for, and are unable to determine which candidate truly fits their needs.

This decision hopes to revive those days, and prevent people from voting with their brains and hearts rather than just voting for the Democrat or Republican. It perpetuates the political ignorance that allows corrupt politicians and interest groups to fleece the American public out of their hard-earned incomes and grow the size of Washington at the expense of states’ rights and states’ sovereignty.

John McKenna // Fordham University // @bosconservative

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9 Responses

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  1. JL Cardia
    Jan 02, 2012 - 12:02 PM

    Parties are so entrenched in our political system that just the label Democrat, Republican, Libertarian etc. gives a lot of information that is important to a voter and may be the only reason why someone may choose to vote for that particular person.
    I’m not happy with the decision cited but I prefer erring on the side of caution and allowing no erosion of the intent of the law . To say it is no longer relevant is wishful thinking.

    Reply
  2. 2alangroves
    Dec 31, 2011 - 12:30 PM

    Absolutely unbelievable!!! Honestly, if you had not been able to site your research, I probably wouldn’t have believed it!

    @Keith Totherow: you make an interesting point that probably could have been more fully explored in this article. Party identification surely does help voters who may not have the time to know and research each and every candidate. However, in defense of my colleague, he sites a case in North Carolina in which the court specifically ruled non-partisan elections unconstitutional because, “it would ‘likely reduce the ability of blacks to elect candidates of choice.’” This is what makes the ruling so appalling -the fact that it was supposedly protecting minorities who (apparently) the Left believes can’t be trusted with the level of civic responsibility that is required of other citizens.

    Reply
    • Keith Totherow
      Dec 31, 2011 - 02:15 PM

      Sad but true, I’m afraid you are. In my home state, NC, we unfortunately see this kind of racism to the degree sometimes that would make you think we live 100 years ago instead of now. I used to joke that NC is close to the top of the list of things that you would not want to see happen. Now I realize it’s no joke.
      I could site relatively recent evidence of both parties committing voter fraud. Not hard to imagine, when one realizes that all, ALL institutions of man are at this time, corrupt.
      Like in all problem solving, the first thing to realize is that there is a problem. Like the old farmer said, when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging!
      TCC, being an outlet for conservative viewpoints, will undoubtedly stir up controversy, and will be dissed by liberals, who never even bother to read one article just because of TCC’s name. Such is the state of the world.
      But is it our fault? I mentioned recently that if knowledge doubles every two years now, just think what happens each and every day! Instead of reaping the benefits of increased data and information, we more often get bogged down by it, unable to cope with the ever-increasing onslaught to our weak human brains. We are forced into abbreviating text msgs, skimming articles, channel surfing, since to spend time on any one thing is next to impossible, if one wants to see any volume of diversity in knowledge.
      But unless we DO spend the time necessary to adequately digest articles, research them to see if they are in fact telling the truth, and give information time to sink in, we can’t possibly hope to gain any real insight into the problems we are facing today.
      Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  3. Michelle
    Dec 31, 2011 - 12:24 PM

    In that case, why do we even need political parties? Everyone should research and know each candiate’s position, so having the labels of Dem or Rep is pointless right?

    These articles always seem to boil down to: these people might not vote our way.

    Reply
  4. Keith Totherow
    Dec 31, 2011 - 11:02 AM

    I don’t claim to know as much as this author on this subject, but what I do know is this: I tested in the top 2% of students in the US all through school. I say this so you won’t think I am so stupid that I can’t figure out whom I am voting for. But with that aside, here is the part that bothers me: “do a little bit of research on the candidates.”
    It’s been my experience (and I am 60 years old) that more than “a little research” is needed to understand fully who is running for the myriad of positions that typically appear on ballots at the polls. From judicial positions to county commissioners, there are so many that I imagine very few if any of the voters are familiar with ALL the candidates. For the love of Moses, what does it harm to have the party affiliation listed by the candidates? Are we so scared nowadays that we will argue against everything coming and going to try to stack the elections in the favor of whom we want elected?
    Voting fraud is a fact of life, but until it is stopped, there are a lot more serious issues revolving around this subject than disclosure of relevant information about the candidates where the voters can see it. Are the parties now so scared of losing that they don’t want the voters to know which parties are represented in the elections?
    Politics in this country has stooped to all time lows and this just serves to prove it.
    The only good reason I can think of for Democrats or Republicans to not want that information known, is that they are ashamed of their parties. Lord knows there is enough shame for each party to go around.

    Reply
  5. Linda Walker
    Dec 31, 2011 - 10:24 AM

    I think it’s also sad that young voters given the great opportunity of voting do not take the time to look at the candidates and make an informed opinion for the good of the country, they look only at what benefits them in the hear and now. That’s because the majority of younger kids mainly in college have a full on sense of “entitlement”.

    Reply
    • Abby
      Apr 08, 2012 - 09:35 PM

      I am actually a registered, well-informed voter who happens to be a college student, working two jobs that pay minimum wage, in the hopes that although the job market is depressingly bleak, I will one day have a steady job and be able to pay back my student loans. Working in the food industry, I believe that the majority of the sense of entitlement I have encountered has come from my elders. Do with that as you please.

      Reply
  6. koala
    Dec 31, 2011 - 10:07 AM

    It is sad but most, regardless of skin color, do not research the candidates.

    Reply
  7. jonathantrousdale
    Dec 31, 2011 - 05:13 AM

    First!

    Reply

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