Today is the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. This landmark legislation helped to level the playing for African Americans in the South somewhat until the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a vital portion of the law, the majority claiming that the South is changed.
The South has, to the contrary, not changed enough to stop trying to disenfranchise African-Americans, most notably with ID requirements that have a similar effect to the nefarious poll taxes of the Jim Crow era. These laws are justified by a fraud problem that is nonexistent. This situation is a travesty.
The time has come restore the franchise once and for all to those, particularly minorities, who law been blocked from voting by the law and its application. This restoration starts with three measures:
- Restore the Voting Rights Act – This has been proved in congress and blocked by Republican’s who need to be turned out of office.
- Automatic Registration – People become registered voters when they become citizens or turn 18. Oregon has just made such a procedure the law of the land. This eliminates duplication, saving both the government and voters money and time. This makes easier for all citizens to vote and for the government to prevent fraud.
- Franchising ex-cons – it is high time that we stop disenfranchising felons who have been released. Whether they are paroled or finished their sentences, if they have done their time, they have done their time, and it makes no sense to keep punishing them. This would have a huge impact since so many African-Americans spend time in prison.
These are just the beginning. We also need to have a holiday for voting so people do not have to rush out to vote during lunch hour or on the way home or on the way to work. Voting should be fair for everyone, not just those who are wealthy enough to overcome the obstacles.