Voting rights have greatly evolved from when we started, yet are under attack

When our Constitution and Bill of Rights were drafted and approved about 225 years ago, only 5% of our people could vote. Women were not permitted to vote. Slaves were not permitted to vote, but were considered 3/5 a person to give more weight to predominant slave-owning states in Congressional representation. So, pretty much you had to be a property owner to vote.

Our history of voting rights has been an effort to increase the 5%. Slaves were given the right to vote when the Civil War ended, but when they had too much clout, Jim Crow slapped them down. Women were given the right to vote less than 100 years ago, which is still amazing it took that long when you look backwards from today. The Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act passed fifty years ago remedied Jim Crow’s suppression of African-American votes. And, it has taking an ongoing effort to make sure maltreatment of minority voters is not occurring.

Yet, we seem to have a hard time remembering what we are all about. I have written several times about the cookie cutter Voter ID Laws which have other features designed to suppress the vote of young college students, African-Americans and the elderly. Several of these laws have been ruled unconstitutional and are in various stages of appeal. In my own state of North Carolina, the most restrictive Voter ID Law will be on trial next year and should be overturned for unconstitutionally. The question is will it.

Also, in the last two years, our Supreme Court struck down some of the policing and auditing under the Voting Rights Act, saying it was no longer needed. To this day, I am wondering what country our Supreme Court justices reside in, as the country I live in still has some suppressive tendencies, as noted above. When people want less turnout to win an election, then something is wrong.

When you couple the above items with gerrymandering districts, we no longer have competitive elections in many places. The competition is in the primaries for each party and what we end up with, more often than not, are lesser candidates and officials. With so much strident extremism in our major political parties, a moderate candidate does not stand a chance. So, we citizens are malserved as we need more moderate candidates who can govern and understand their party does not have all of the answers. Some are not even permitted to understand the questions and problems per below and are not allowed to think for themselves.

I will be writing in the future about the recent rulings in the Supreme Court which made an age-old problem worse, by making it easier for a wealthy few to control elections. Money is now equated with free speech. Corporations are now people. Together, these rulings allow those with the most money to more easily write the rules. And, our country’s leaders are not listening as much to its citizens, paying more attention to its donors who helped them get elected.

This has got to change, as our problems are too apparent and opportunity is not equal in our country. And, those with the most money want to keep it that way. There is a movement to amend the constitution to restore order by overturning these Supreme Court decisions. In Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Florida, citizens voted overwhelmingly for their legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling and declare that only human beings – not corporations – are entitled to constitutional rights and that money is not speech and campaign spending can be regulated.

Please look into the movement called Move to Amend and learn more about what it entails. But, also get more informed over the issues of the day and pay less attention to the spin-doctored misinformation offered by pseudo-news sources. We have to hold our leaders accountable, as it is a huge uphill climb.

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9 thoughts on “Voting rights have greatly evolved from when we started, yet are under attack

  1. The Supremes have no alliance with our democracy. They’ve allied themselves with the Koch brothers interpretation of the constitution as a tool for the rich, to exploit the middle class and the poor. They are the definition of Scalia’s Consititution, the constitution for the rich.

    Any Supreme Court worth its robes would have been all over these voter ID laws.

    This can’t be good.

    • Thanks Barney. I cannot fathom how a court could permit these voter ID laws to happen. There is no rampant voter fraud. What many folks fail to realize it the amalgamation of all of the pieces of these laws that make them discriminatory, but the ID portion gets all the press. I have always been one to see if the best team can win without injuries. I would rather a football game not be decided by turnovers, but won by the team who made the best plays with both teams at their best. I would rather elections be decided by all of the voters. But, when one party has to limit the turnout to win, that should be prima facie evidence that maybe its ideas are less meritorious.

  2. Note to Readers: I have also been advocate for unhitching the voter ranks from jury duty. There are many who do not wish to be called for jury duty, so they never register. They choose not to be a part of democracy. That is unfortunate. I would link jury duty to residence and not voter ranks. This would get more folks registered. Plus, the key question is how do we get more people voting? If someone does not like the answer to that question, then we should question why do they think that? Some places require people to vote or even pay them a stipend. I would not be averse to some incentive, with retailers offering a discount to voters. They benefit and the voter benefits.

  3. In Oregon jurors are pulled from a list compiled from DMV applicants for driver’s licenses or identification cards. In the Portland area, they merge voter registration lists with the DMV lists to get their potential jurors.

  4. Note to Readers: Bill Moyers and Company’s show today had on Zephyr Teachout and Lawrence Lessig, two professors of law, who are advocating the May Day response to the above issues. Lessig noted that the issue has support of some wealthy people as well, as they see the country not working very well. In his mind, this is a bipartisan issue and not a 1% versus the 99%. That is nice to hear, but the oligarchy tendencies are typically not coming from the 99%. We need to bang the drum loudly and watch for candidates who want to overturn McCutcheon and Citizens United.

    • I have supported Move to Amend from its inception, but I don’t hold ut much hope for it. After all, an amendment must at some point pass through the Congress and, as Barney suggests, that’s very unlikely as things now stand. Still, spit into the wind we must …..

      • Hugh, I agree we still must spit in the wind. I am not holding my breath, but I don’t think we should stop using data-informed purveyances of truth, either. If you catch Bill Moyers show from last weekend, it is a good watch. Have a great Thanksgiving, BTG

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