One Person, One Vote. Is It That Complicated?

OPINION — I admit that voting is and has always been a celebratory ritual for me, even if the candidate is running unopposed, the office is state agriculture commissioner or my district’s makeup means my one vote won’t make much of a difference.

I watched three older siblings march for civil rights, and I am well aware that many brave folks died protecting my right to cast that ballot. While a little rain or a busy schedule might provide an excuse to “sit this one out,” it’s never enough to outweigh the legacy left by a Medgar Evers, who served his country in World War II and was murdered in front of his Mississippi home for, among other civil rights activity, leading voter registration drives in the country he protected.

Mine is not a controversial stand — in fact, it’s patriotic. You would think our country’s leaders, without regard to party or politics, would be on my side.

You would be wrong.

Opinion: Supreme Court Resurrects the ‘Purge,’ and McConnell Saw It Coming

It was a brilliant and, opponents would say, devious move by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: Stall, obstruct and block President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court replacement for the late Antonin Scalia.

That pick, Judge Merrick Garland, once a thoroughly acceptable and moderate choice to many Republicans, never had a chance in a ramped-up partisan atmosphere. Instead, the next president, Donald Trump, appointed conservative Neil Gorsuch, with immediate and long-lasting repercussions, this week reaching into the voting booth.

By a 5-4 vote in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, the conservatives on the court reaffirmed an Ohio law an appeals court had rejected as being a violation of the National Voter Registration Act, which says states cannot purge voters for failing to vote but can figure out how to remove those who have moved or died from the list. The state — a crucial battleground — has a particularly stringent test, using failure to vote in a single federal election cycle as the trigger to start the process.

Opinion: Will Move to Purge Ohio Voting Rolls Kickstart Congressional Action?

Fifty-two years ago this week, John Lewis of Georgia was a young activist, not the Democratic congressman he is today. Yet he got a warmer welcome from the then-president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, than from today’s occupant of the White House.

On the Twitter feed of the longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives, you can see a picture celebrating that time a few decades ago, when, with Democratic and Republican support, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed and then signed.

Lewis was one of those who suffered arrests and shed blood to make it so. You might think that at 77 years of age, he has earned the right to relax just a little. But instead of celebrating progress made, he has to ignore occasional insults from President Donald Trump and some of his congressional colleagues, while refighting a version of that same fight for voting rights.

Every day there is that reminder, whether it is a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, stacked with a rogue’s gallery of folks with a history of searching for nonexistent hordes of fraudulent voters, or news that Trump’s Justice Department has joined Ohio’s campaign to purge its voter rolls.

How many in Congress will stand with their colleague and other leaders to strengthen rather than dilute the power of that defining law from 52 years ago? How many will stand with a president who asked minority communities to support him — “what do you have to lose” was both question and challenge — with a grab bag of policies that illustrates exactly what his statements meant?

Still No N.C. Governor-Elect as Voting Charges Echo Trump’s Claims

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nov. 8 was weeks ago, and yet the election’s aftermath continues. On the national stage and in the headlines, the winners, losers and those who barely made a dent are unhappy and are doing something about it, from recounts to tweets to repeating debunked conspiracy theories of hordes of illegal voters.

In North Carolina, folks are saying, “Welcome to the club!”

 

Remembering Freedom Summer

It was a summer that saw a national spotlight turned on injustice, as more than 1,000 out-of-state volunteers joined activists who had been doing the work on the ground in Mississippi with a goal of teaching and registering voters. Just 50 years ago, for a black citizen in many Southern states, going to the local county courthouse to register to exercise the fundamental right to vote meant risking your job, everything you owned, and your life. Many took that risk and paid the price.

How America’s original affirmative action is still going strong

George W. Bush used to joke about it, his mediocre record at Yale, his less-than-diligent efforts throughout his educational career. So many laughed along at every bit of the persona he played into – the incurious certainty, the attempts to pronounce “nuclear” and the confident attitude throughout it all. But few questioned his right to take that place at Yale, another at Harvard and the privileged path that led to the White House.

That is how America has always worked, with the rich and the ones with the last names that matter usually stepping to the front of the line. It’s a system that has overwhelmingly benefited whites and males and, to look at the boards of Fortune 500 companies, still does.

Yet, you don’t see the righteous indignation or a spate of lawsuits to rid higher education of the curse of legacies. Voices are rarely raised to demand that elite colleges and universities take the thumb off the scale for families with a fat checkbook or a name on a campus building. There is not a suggestion that “they” don’t belong.

When Abigail Fisher was refused admittance at the University of Texas, she didn’t think that because she didn’t earn her way into the top 10 percent of her high school class — a bar that in Texas would have gained her automatic admission – that just maybe she should have studied harder.

The Supreme Court’s post-racial fantasy

That was then, this is now. The reasoning behind the Supreme Court’s ruling this week striking down key parts of the Voting Rights Act uses considerably more words, but that simple phrase pretty much says it all. To accept that conclusion, though, one has to accept that America is as post-racial as some have insisted since the election of President Obama.

A voter ID battle in North Carolina

Elections have consequences. In North Carolina, which elected Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and a GOP super-majority in both the state House and Senate in 2012, legislation to institute photo identification as a prerequisite for voting is again on the table.