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Equality, Equity and Parity

Editor in Chief | , Publisher | , Elinor Tatum | 3/8/2013, 12:56 p.m.
When guidance counselors need to care

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was one of the most effective measures used to make sure that the rights of Blacks and other minorities were protected at the voting booth. As we saw in the last election, it was the Voting Rights Act that was challenged at every turn. Because of the challenges to this act and the mischief and foolishness of right-wing conservatives, the Supreme Court has taken up the case of Shelby County v. Holder.

During the recent hearing of Shelby v. Holder, Justice Antonin Scalia said that when Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006, it was perpetuating a "racial entitlement." But how can voting be a racial entitlement when all Americans--regardless of race, creed, color, religion or political party--are entitled to vote if they are of age?

Voting is a right, and as Americans, we must fight tooth and nail to make sure that nothing erodes this right that could take us off the ballot and put us back into the fields.

The Voting Rights Act was a hard-earned measure; many valiant and coura-

geous civil rights activists gave their lives for this right, which is not about punish- ing states that have a history of inequity at the polls, but rather a safeguard to ensure that the rights granted to all of us are upheld. It is not about the South or the North; it is about America and the rights of all her citizens to be able to participate in the democratic process.

The Voting Rights Act promises free and fair elections. But over and over again, we see the powerful prey upon the weak in an attempt to stop democracy in its tracks, to undermine what is a right, not a privilege. The efforts these special interest groups and state legislatures have made in denying Americans their voting rights have spread faster and farther than anyone ever thought was possible.

The tactics, which include redistricting, implementing restrictive voter ID laws and spreading false and misleading information about voting, help to move the vote in a particular direction, usually against the interests of minority voters.

And this is clearly an egregious effort on the part of right-wing Republicans who will seemingly go to no end to discourage those interested in casting votes for Democratic contenders.

Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the veritable heartbeat of the measure, must be preserved. It is not an entitlement; it is a right. We can only say we live in a democracy--albeit a flawed one--if all people have the right to vote. The Voting Rights Act is only the tip of the iceberg. Other fights over the ballot will be waged, one regarding the disenfranchisement of convicted felons. But that is a fight for another day.

Right now we have to fight to preserve the rights we do have and not let others decide our fates at the polls--especially those who insist that the days of discrimination are over. After we have won this fight, we will continue fighting in the battles to re-enfranchise the rest of us.