On Obama’s 100th day, democracy hangs in balance

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On the 100th day of President Barack Obama’s administration, the Supreme Court will hear arguments brought by conservative lawyers to try to derail the Voting Rights Act.

On the 100th day of President Barack Obama’s administration, the Supreme Court will hear arguments brought by conservative lawyers to try to derail the Voting Rights Act.

Their strategy was to find a test case from a tiny, virtually all White municipal district in Texas, to have Section 5, often called the heart of the Voting Rights act declared unconstitutional.

There is an irony that on the day marking the first 100 days of America’s first Black president’s term, the very act that assures an inclusive democracy is being assailed.

Millions of people – white, Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American – rejoiced in the breakthrough election of President Obama. It was the shattering of the highest glass political ceiling and his victory, our victory was in no small part because of the doors that were flung open to all Americans to participate in the electoral process.

Specifically, the Voting Rights Act’s Section 5 rules that districts and jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination must submit all proposed changes to the Department of Justice or D.C. District Court for approval.

It prevents hundreds of acts of voter discrimination in every election cycle. As recent as last year, counties covered under Section 5 were the scenes of voter intimidation. In Boynton, Florida people went through African-American neighborhoods stating that anyone who has outstanding warrants, owes child support or even has an outstanding traffic ticket would be arrested if they attempted to vote. Police officers were stationed outside of polling places.

In Collier, the Republican Party organized “do not forward” mailings, which meant when they got returned mail they could aggressively challenge people at the polls who may have moved.

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