In most city-states voting will be held this upcoming Tuesday, November 5. In certain cities and counties, there will be an election for city council members, judges, school board members, school levies, in addition to any issues affecting the current operating budget for next year. Some will vote their interest, while others will vote for the candidate they personally know best. Others will vote based on their operating budget, “no new tax hike.” Others will simply ignore exercising their right “not to vote.”
There is a price to be paid for every act of freedom gained. The Voting Rights Act signed into law on Aug. 6, 1965 by, President Lyndon Johnson. The new legislation was meant to enforce the 15th Amendment, which prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” This law came a year after the murder of three voting rights activists in Philadelphia, Mississippi, and just months after the brutal attack on peaceful protesters in Selma, Alabama. History can appear to be boring in school, but trust and believe history does and will repeat itself if, no one is watching.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits states and local governments with a history of discriminatory voting practices from implementing any change affecting voting without first obtaining the approval of the United States Attorney General or a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for D.C., a process known as “preclearance”. Section 5 has been renewed and amended by Congress four times, the most recent being a 25-year extension signed into law by the President George W. Bush in 2006.
“The Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder (2013) struck down Section 4(b), which set out the formula for determining which states are subject to the Section 5 preclearance requirement, thus rendering Section 5 — which many consider the heart of the act — meaningless.”
Chief Justice Roberts stated, “the Voting Rights Act of 1965 employed extraordinary measures to address an extraordinary problem,” using the “strong medicine” of applying heavy requirements on some states and not others to fight suppression of voting rights. He then suggests that those rules have outlived their usefulness.” This decision was based on the premises of state’s right granted by the 10th Amendment.
According to Derek T. Dingle of Black Enterprise, “The majority ruling stripped the law’s formula that Congress has repeatedly reauthorized to determine all or jurisdictions of states – many of them located in the South – that would be required to gain federal approval before changing election laws. Hours after the Supremes’ decision, Mississippi and Texas announced plans to move forward with controversial voter ID laws – and expect more to follow. Eleven states in the past two years have approved laws that would mandate voters to show identification at voting booths. But the 48-year-old law required some with a history of voter discrimination to get “pre-cleared” by the federal government before making any adjustments to voting laws.”
No matter the thoughts about the current candidates, laws, and issues that are currently on your city or state’s ballot, it is your duty as an American citizen to stand up and be counted. When there is no one watching, a law can alter or take away what you took for granted. Vote.