Diseased racist voting system needs a cure
February 18, 2013
The February 18, 2013 front page of the New York Times proclaimed “Voting Rights Act is Challenged as Cure the South Outgrown.” In reality, the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 is needed now, nationally, more than ever.
The new Jim Crow, same as the old Jim Crow, has contaminated virtually every state in the Union. The turning point that allowed the racist contagion to spread began with the outbreak in Florida in the year 2000. BBC reporter and investigative journalist Greg Palast has documented and detailed the deliberate targeting of Democratic voters, a majority of them black, that paved the way for George W. Bush’s theft of the 2000 presidential election.
Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore hastened the spreading of the undemocratic virus by refusing to let members of the Black Caucus speak during the counting of electoral votes in January 2001. It spread to Ohio where then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell became the Typhoid Mary of disenfranchisement.
Now, 33 states have embraced the systematic race- and class-based removal of U.S. citizens from the voting rolls. “Model legislation” provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has led to the “southernization” of our nation’s politics. In those 33 states, massively restrictive ID requirements for voting are applied in a racist manner.
Right-wingers in the South complain that they should no longer be held accountable under the Voting Rights Act of ’65, and in particular, the key enforcement provision known as “Section 5.” Section 5 of the Act requires pre-approval from the U.S. Justice Department before state and local governments, primarily in the South, enact any new voting procedures.
Right-wing Southerners are right to complain, since the Dixiecrat tradition of purging black, poor, and non-Dixiecrat voters is now our country’s national norm.
The state of Ohio purged 1.1 million voter registrations between the 2008 and 2012 elections, according to a public records request obtained by the Free Press. Between the 2004 and 2008 elections, Ohio county officials purged 1.25 million voters; and going back between the 2000 and 2004 elections, 305,000 voters were purged in the inner cities of Toledo, Cleveland and Cincinnati.
If not for these purges, John Kerry would have won the presidency in 2004. Recall that 24.96% of all voters in Cleveland were purged prior to the ’04 election.
In a computer age, where the vast majority of states require some form of ID, why would any voter be de-registered based on the whims of some local board of election bureaucrat?
Not only should we be concerned with this second wave of high-tech Jim Crow, we need to expand the Voting Rights Act to include the mysterious placing of non-transparent software on electronic voting systems. The current case of Fitrakis v. Husted in Ohio shows the reason why we haven’t outgrown the need for the Voting Rights Act, and demonstrates why the Voting Rights Act must now cover all of the United States.
In Ohio, you have rural, Republican-dominated counties that embrace the policy of “no purging” of voters. Here in these white enclaves, they all know each other and still hold to the tradition of voting the dead or cyber-voters.
Companies with extensive ties to the Right-to-Life movement like Triad, connected to the infamous Florida “butterfly ballot” in the 2000 election, are now actively involved with other partisan Republican voting machine companies like ES&S in developing and maintaining the voting rolls. Their nontransparent secretive source codes are now the silent poison to democracy.
When voters show up at polling places in Columbus, Ohio, for example, they find themselves removed without explanation from the voter rolls. They are forced to vote provisionally, giving them a 17% chance that their vote will not be counted.
The South has not outgrown the Voting Rights Act. The fraudulent elections of George W. Bush have unleashed a more insidious and pervasive racist electoral system in our country. The Republican Party has made it clear that its strategy is no longer to reach out to diverse voting groups, but to disenfranchise likely Democratic voters to win their elections.
The disease has infected the entire nation. No state or county board of election can be trusted with the free and fair administration of the vote. We must be inoculated through national law. We must demand that the Voting Rights Act be extended throughout the country and be enforced by truly nonpartisan election officials.
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