The 50TH anniversary commemorations of the “Bloody Sunday” march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., have come and gone. But one of the principal achievements of the brave marchers still remains compromised. Congress needs to fix the Voting Rights Act, a fact that can’t be ignored now that the politicians have left Selma. The Voting Rights Act subjected a handful of states with notorious records of voting discrimination to “preclearance,” meaning state and local officials had to submit proposed changes in electoral procedures to the Justice Department before implementing them. The results of preclearance and the other provisions of the act were dramatic.
Massive racial gaps in voter registration and turnout in former Confederate states closed, a recent report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies noted. Congress reviewed and reauthorized this successful law several times over the decades since 1965, including under GOP leadership in 2006.
But the Supreme Court eviscerated preclearance in a 2013 ruling, with consequences that are only beginning to be understood. The justices didn’t strike preclearance entirely from the books, but they threw out the formula for determining which states and localities had to comply with it. Former preclearance states responded by rushing to impose onerous barriers to voting. Congress could easily repair the damage by approving a new formula that’s more likely to pass muster with the court. But it hasn’t acted.
Full Article: Repair the Voting Rights Act – The Washington Post.