February 27, 2013

Let's nationalize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act

In places like Gov. John Kasich's Ohio (selectiveness with absentee ballots), Gov. Rick Snyder's Michigan, and Gov. Scott Walker's Wisconsin, recent attempts to hinder voting of some groups, either more narrowly based on race or more generally based on socioeconomic class, have shown themselves not to be limited to the South. At the same time, on the racial level, the growing numbers of , and clout of Hispanics (even if not as solid as folks like Texas Democrats might hope), show that race-based voting discrimination, in the narrow sense, also may not be, or remain, limited largely to the South.

So, even as wingnuts hope the Supreme Court guts Section 5, as it may, what's really needed is to nationalize it.

Not just for elections, but for redistricting. If race can't be the primary factor in gerrymandering majority-minority districts, it can't be the primary factor in gerrymandering "over-minoritied" districts, either. And, because Section 5 is data-driven, and electoral "consultants" rely ever more on computers to drive partisan-based redistricting, Section 5 is tailor-made for the issue.

At the New York Times, columnist Charles Blow agrees on nationalizing it.

And, as Barack Obama's election, and even more his re-election, showed, there's still racism all around the country.

Add to that, that way back in the 1920s, when the "Second Klan" came into being, there were more lynchings north of the Mason-Dixon Line rather than south. Indiana was a hotbed of the Klan. There were lynchings all the way up in Duluth, Minn.

Update, June 25, 2013: Given the Supreme Court's ruling today, this is more relevant than ever.

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