Minority Leaders Rallied at City Hall Today to Explain Why Texas Needs the Voting Rights Act

Dallas Peace Center's Kelli Obazee, Domingo Garcia and others speak in support of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments today challenging the constitutionality of and need for Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, which requires Texas and other southern states with a history of suppressing the minority vote to get pre-clearance from the Feds before implementing changes to voting laws.

Naturally, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott will be front and center, after a federal judicial panel ruled that the state's strict voter ID law discriminated against minorities and the poor. A federal court struck down Texas' redistricting plan, characterizing it as an attempt to dilute the strength of minority voters.

Abbott says the voter ID law is necessary to prevent an epidemic of fraud and voter impersonation, if in fact you consider five illegal voting complaints filed with his office, for example, during the 2008 and 2010 elections an epidemic.

Supporters of Voting Rights Act say such voter ID laws demonstrate exactly why it is still needed. So they gathered today in Dallas City Hall, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, D.C., and elsewhere to register their fear of a Texas without the federal checks on gerrymandering and ID requirements at the polls -- tools, they say, of a political party desperate to maintain its grip on a state whose complexion is changing.

"We say that, far from proving Section 5 (the pre-clearance provision of the VRA) is no longer necessary, 2012 proved it is needed now more than ever," said Dr. Gerald Britt of CitySquare, an organization fighting poverty, in the first-floor atrium of City Hall.

Immigration lawyer and former Congressional candidate Domingo Garcia said the VRA was the sold reason Texas has so many Latino officials. "When we see bills attempting to suppress Latino voting, it's a way to try to do an ethnic cleansing of the political system."

Kelli Obazee of the Dallas Peace Center said voter purges and restrictions on early-voting access and valid IDs are "clear efforts by some politicians to manipulate the system to their advantage."

Meanwhile, on the steps of the Supreme Court, Congressman Marc Veasey said that "overt and deliberate racial discrimination is still used by leaders in Texas." During recent redistricting efforts, "minorities were packed or cracked precinct by precinct and block by block in order to deny hundreds of thousands of minority voters their right to elect the candidate of their choice. The right to vote and the right for one's voice to be heard through elected representation is a legally enacted constitutional right that many have bled and died for. Yet, we are still fighting for this very right. Some say it's time to move on, but my dear friends these rights are not just at risk but under attack."

For a little background, Texas wasn't initially included in the 1965 landmark legislation with Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and the others. The state wasn't subject to the law until 1975, when it provided election information only in English, despite Spanish speakers constituting more than five percent of voting-age citizens. Since then, the state and its political subdivisions have been subject to more than 200 pre-clearance objections from the Justice Department -- more than any other jurisdiction.

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14 comments
RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

I take one offense from this.  I'll start by saying I'm against vote repression.  Every American has the right to vote.  Notice I didn't say everyONE has that right.  Resident Aliens, Foreign students and Illegals do not have the right to vote here, and they shouldn't get that right.  Get your citizenship first, then you can vote.


Here is where I get crossways of the arguments being made in favor of the VRA: " "minorities were packed or cracked precinct by precinct and block by block in order to deny hundreds of thousands of minority voters their right to elect the candidate of their choice."  No. the very premise is wrong.  You get the right to vote for the candidate of your choice.  You don't get the right to win the election.  Set geographical or natural neighborhood districts ONCE and then leave them be.  Districts have no need to change to mirror changing demographics or to give or take advantage from one group over another.  If that is the case, where are the districts carved out for Libertarian voters to elect the candidate of our choice?  How about Asian communist horticulturalists with one green eye?  Do they get their own district?  That's extreme, and ridiculously so, but I put it that way for a reason.  Changing the districts every 5 or so years is asinine, and serves no purpose other than to artificially influence the outcome of an election; or in other words FRAUD.

MikeWestEast
MikeWestEast

The issue for the Supreme Court is why a plan in use in Indiana gets stomped by US DOJ because 50 years old demographic data allows them to stomp it. None of the so-called grievous actions done recently have any bearing because Congress was too lazy to update the files. 4 years ago the same court told Congress to fix it and of course nothing was done. It looks like the Court will allow the provision to stand, but that Congress has to get new data. Since the Republicans will never authorize getting new data, the Section will be suspended until that data gets reviewed.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

If any politician is actually serious about preventing voter fraud, they would not be focused on the actual voting on election day, when a voter must physically show up and cast a ballot (and where fraud has almost never been shown to occur), but focus on the registration process. Clean up the voter rolls, that is where any fraud is likely to occur.

As those who scream about a voter ID fail at this issue, it is clear they are not actually focused on preventing fraud but rather have other goals in mind.

One item that certainly needs addressing in Texas is the redistributing process. Districts should not be carved out to provide a "safe" electorate for anyone, be they republican, democrat, white, black or Hispanic. The geographical boundaries of many districts do not follow true neighborhood outlines, they are obscene. Look at the success CA has had with an independent commission, as well as not allowing political parties to dictate primary winners but rather total vote counts.

James080
James080 topcommenter

Marc Veasey claims that "minorities were packed or cracked precinct by precinct and block by block" to disenfranchise minority voters. The truth is that a low percentage of minorities register to vote, and a low percentage of registered voters actually vote. It requires drawing districts packed with a super-majority of minorities residents to give minority candidates an even chance. 

Hell, look at the demographics in this state. If Democrats in Texas could get their constituents registered and out to vote, they could control state government as they do in Dallas County.

Guest
Guest

I'm still waiting for a member of the media to investigate these claims that requiring ID will disenfranchise registered voters. Come on Hargrove, do your job and find some of these registered voters who cannot possibly get an ID, then find out why they can't get one. I've seen media reports recently about dead people voting, candidates for office voting in multiple states, and voters voting both in person and by absentee ballot. But I have not seen one story about an actual person who was able to register to vote but unable to get an ID.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Looks like the Leftist Mona Lisa is going to lose a bit of her smile (or smirk).  


everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

What's the acceptable level of disenfranchisement through fraud?

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

As an edit to that, I truly think that there should be some sort of test at polls to determine if people really have any clue what the issues are and who they're voting for.  Pipe dream I know, and no fair way to administer it.  It's just I see a lot of natural born Americans who are less aware than even illegals concerning the political issues and questions of the day.  Then one feels kind of like an ass for saying things like "get your citizenship first, then you can vote."

roo_ster
roo_ster

@mavdog"Clean up the voter rolls, that is where any fraud is likely to occur."

Been tried and is fought every step of the way by the Usual Suspects of the racialist lobbies and various other left-leaning groups.  That plus voter ID are two of the best tools in combating wholesale voter fraud.  Another prophylactic would be to insist on paper ballots and avoid using these PC-based vote systems.  Instead of a coterie of conspirators and/or distributed malefactors, all you need is one man with access to the hardware.

"Districts should not be carved out to provide a "safe" electorate for anyone, be they republican, democrat, white, black or Hispanic."

Agreed.  Gerry Mandering & D&R horse/district trading is obnoxious.  Let them all be as competitive as possible.

 

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

uh, redistricting, not redistributing. dang auto-correct...

brantley.hargrove1
brantley.hargrove1

@everlastingphelps Seems to me like the calculus should be: How many eligible voters is it worth disenfranchising in order to combat literally a handful of fraud complaints (not actual convictions)?

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@roo_ster

no, what has been "tried" is a targeted purge, not a "clean up", by states such as Florida, purges that resulted in 1000's of good voters being removed due to their surname being hispanic.

a clean up is to go thru the rolls, remove duplicates and cross reference with other databases.

the people who opposed these heavy handed, targeted purges are civil liberty protecting organizations such as the ACLU, and unless you are of the opinion that only "racialist lobbies [whatever those are] and other left-leaning groups" are the ones who truly care about protecting our civil rights, you are wrong in your accusation.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@brantley.hargrove1 @everlastingphelps The Democratic Party has been trying to scrounge up ANYONE they can who was "disenfranchised" by Voter ID laws -- where they should have the advantage, because it is much easier to get someone to admit that they couldn't vote than that they stole old people's vote -- and they couldn't do it.  Meanwhile, we have been able to show voter fraud (virtually always Democrat favoring) over and over and over.

IIRC, in one state they managed to finally find some poor african-american woman they could hold up as being unable to get ID.  They lost the lawsuit, and she "somehow" got ID the very next day and voted.  Imagine that.

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