This presidential primary season has exposed serious fault lines in our election system. One has been known for years. The voting rights of African Americans and Latinos continue to be compromised. Another has become the focus of widespread attention by the media and by ordinary Americans for the first time. There is a vast block of non-aligned voters who are systematically excluded from partisan primaries, where the decisions that effectively determine who will take office are often made. Independents have militantly protested their exclusion from a presidential nominating process organized around party primaries and caucuses. A look at the recent Arizona and New York presidential primaries helps us understand the interplay between these two voting rights issues.
The Arizona presidential preference primary took place on March 22. In Maricopa County, the state’s largest county and the home of some 1.6 million persons of color, the number of polling places was reduced from 200 to 60 by the county’s Chief Election Officer, Helen Purcell [R]. As a result, there were long lines as voters waited – in some cases 4-5 hours – to cast their votes. And, of course, many people never got to vote at all, as there was inadequate notice of the new locations.
The attempts of election officials to justify this action have been unconvincing.
Lawsuits have been brought and complaints filed with the Department of Justice by traditional civil rights forces, joined by the Clinton and Sanders campaigns. But the fact is that had Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act not been gutted by the Supreme Court (Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013)), the polling sites could not have been closed without the permission of the Department of Justice, which would surely have objected.
Full Article: It’s Time to Expand Voting Rights.