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Action Alert! Tell The Senate Election Reform Doesn't Need Undone
   Tuesday, July 1, 2014   at   1:00 PM

Some members of the U.S. Senate, undeterred by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, are taking the reactionary step of seeking new government powers through an expansion of the federal Voting Rights Act. The court struck down portions of the civil-rights-era legislation last year as unnecessary.

Click here to tell your U.S. Senators to abandon this effort to re-write an insightful and important Supreme Court decision.

The June 2013 decision, Shelby County v. Holder, involved a jurisdiction that believed past racial discrimination in the area did not justify continued federal oversight. The high court agreed, noting that the Justice Department had been holding Shelby County and other jurisdictions to standards that hadn't changed since 1975. The law, the court concluded, was solving problems that didn't exist. But governments don't like having control stripped from them, and that's the most reasonable explanation for S.1945, which received a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee June 25, on the one-year anniversary of the Shelby County decision.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the committee, tried mightily to make the case for continued federal involvement in supervising the elections process. “There is no right more fundamental to our existence as American citizens than the right to vote. Every eligible American is entitled to vote and no voter should have their vote denied, abridged, or infringed.”

The Senator's statement is right as far as it goes. But it hardly follows that the federal government needs to continue to oversee, and inevitably punish, jurisdictions that have shown they aren't guilty of practices that make voting more difficult for some of its citizens than it does for others.

We aren't arguing that these jurisdictions, primarily Southern states, didn't once need federal oversight. We maintain that those who have proven that federal oversight is no longer necessary should be relieved of it. The legislation seems to seek to hold jurisdictions to results in voting participation records, and even electoral results, which are wholly unreasonable to attribute to ballot access.

Dr. Abigail Thernstrom of the American Enterprise Institute put it well when she told the committee. “Forces far beyond the control of any state, and any of its political subdivisions, result in glaring disparities in rates of electoral participation. The framers of the entire section of the proposed legislation of the proposed legislation focused on the issue of ‘low minority turnout' seem oblivious to what ever social scientist knows. It would extend federal control over a great many jurisdictions that have made every possible effort to provide equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to all of the citizens. If the Congress were to enact the measure as written, I very much doubt that it would survive the scrutiny of the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Fortunately, passage of the bill as written, or in any form, is unlikely this late in the current session of the Congress, especially given the more restrained approach of the House where expanding the power of government is concerned. Still, we hope you'll raise your voice to your U.S. Senators, asking them to stop wasting their time with a bill that is little more than an excuse for grandstanding.

Click here to tell your U.S. Senators to abandon this effort to re-write an insightful and important Supreme Court decision.
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