Jeff Jacoby ends his June 29 op-ed column “Cochran’s voting-rights victory” by asserting that black citizens’ right to vote “is no longer endangered anywhere in America.” What America is he talking about?
Not North Carolina, where the Legislature targeted African-Americans by repealing same-day registration and cutting back on early voting, both of which African-Americans disproportionately used to register and vote. Not Alabama, where the Legislature passed a strict photo ID law, even though 11 counties with sizable black populations lack a driver’s license office that is open more than one or two days per week.
Not Texas, where Galveston recently redrew its local redistricting lines to make it harder for people of color to elect candidates of choice to office. Not Wisconsin, where a court found that the restrictive photo ID law that the state is trying to implement discriminates against voters of color. Not Mississippi, either, whose record of recent voting rights infractions formed some of the strongest evidence for renewal of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
In fact, a study found that states with recent increases in African-American turnout were the most likely to have passed restrictive voting laws. African-Americans’ right to vote is indeed being threatened in many parts of America, precisely because certain interests don’t want them to exercise it. That’s one important reason that Congress needs to restore the Voting Rights Act.
The writer is vice president for legal strategies at the public policy organization Demos.