State Attorney General Luther Strange believes it is time to end the provisions that require state to ask the Justice Department or a federal court for approval before making any changes to election procedures.
These were key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for Alabama and 15 other states due to their history of discrimination in running elections.
Strange believes that such discrimination is a relic of the past and “Alabama has a new generation of leaders with no connection to the tragic events of 1965.”
To borrow a phrase from ESPN sports analyst Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”
We have just come through a national election where voter suppression tactics to disenfranchise certain groups (not just minorities) should cause alarm.
The year, the leaders and the tactics may have changed, but the objective remained the same.
Since 2010, Republican-led state Legislatures in some states have engaged in voter suppression efforts to include photo IDs, attempts to reduce early voting, intentionally reducing the number of polling places and laws intended to discourage voter assistance groups.
And these efforts were not just limited to the original states covered by the Voting Rights Act.
Therefore it is incumbent that we follow the advice adopted and made famous by President Ronald Reagan, “Trust, but verify.”
This advice recommends that while a source of information might be considered reliable, one should perform additional research to verify that such information is accurate or trustworthy.
While we may trust the attorney general’s word that “the effects of those events on voting and political representation have now, thankfully, faded away,” continuing the provisions of the Voting Rights Act offers us the best opportunity to verify that his information is indeed accurate.
Michael E. Waters