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Sunday, June 12, 2011

A nationwide assult on voting rights

From the Washington Post

The June 5 news article “La. redistricting seen as a crucial test” missed a crucial point: what our democracy would look like without the critical protections afforded by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

By all accounts, a nationwide assault on voters’ rights is underway. State laws are being passed at an alarming rate that make it harder for millions of eligible voters to cast ballots by shortening early-
voting periods, requiring photo IDs and erecting burdensome barriers to voter registration efforts.

At the same time, those in power have made clear attempts to manipulate the redistricting process specifically to shortchange minority voters. Last week, the Texas Senate passed a congressional redistricting plan that would leave minority voters with less representation, despite the fact that 90 percent of that state’s population growth over the past decade is in minority communities.

Clearly, we still need processes to ensure that minority voting rights are protected, and the Voting Rights Act has proved an effective vehicle for doing so time and time again. This landmark law remains one of the most significant protections to help us realize our vision of a truly representative democracy.

Elisabeth MacNamara, Washington

The writer is president of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

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