By Chris Ingram
The Tampa Tribune, Wednesday, July 10, 2013
The reaction to last month’s Supreme Court ruling that rendered Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act unconstitutional was full of typical hyperbole about the impact the court’s decision will have on minority voting rights.
The overturned section related to the formula by which nine states and some jurisdictions in other states (including just six counties in Florida) are brought under Section 5, which requires them to get federal permission – “preclearance” – for even the most minor changes in voting procedures.
In his opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote Section 4 “[uses] obsolete statistics,” and that the coverage formula “violates the constitution.”
To wit, the Supreme Court did not overturn the act itself, just Section 4, and effectively Section 5. Congress is free to consider rewriting the law, though if it wants to ensure fair voting it should look elsewhere.
Such as the 15 states (mostly in the Northeast and in states that strongly tend to favor Democrats), that don’t permit any form of early voting or “no-excuse needed” vote by mail (previously referred to as “absentee” voting). Among those states are New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Despite the fact that these Democratic Party-leaning states have more restrictive voting opportunities than Florida, our state and its Republican elected officials are frequently vilified by the media for so-called “voter suppression.”
While the state Legislature did tighten some of the rules regarding early voting in 2011, it reinstated most of them this year. But even under the pre-reinstated laws, Florida had far less-restrictive elections than in 15 states, as well as some others that permit early voting and/or no-excuse mail balloting but that are more restrictive than Florida’s.
Yet the liberal mainstream media rarely looks in its own backyard. It’s much easier to label Florida’s legislators and our governor as right-wing voter suppressors than it is to do a little research and then point out that Florida has some of the most progressive voting laws in the country – all of which were instituted by Republicans (not Democrats), and that New York (home of the liberal mainstream media) has among the most oppressive voting laws in the country.
For example, the Obama Network (aka MSNBC), noted in a propaganda report that the effort to overturn provisions of the Voting Rights Act “…underlines the extent to which it’s a product of the broader partisan voter suppression campaign pushed by Republicans last year in a failed attempt to defeat President Obama.”
It is doubtful that the portion of the overturned law will have any impact on the rights of anyone to vote. In Florida, the six counties where the law applied (Collier, Escambia, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe), are hardly known today as bastions of racism. In fact, they never were. Despite a public misperception, the law applied to those Florida counties to protect Hispanic voters, not blacks; and not because of racism, but because of their large Hispanic populations that were underrepresented at the polls. Today – as Justice Roberts rightly noted – the 40-plus-year-old formula is outdated and no longer needed.
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Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him at: Chris@IrreverentView.com.
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