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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Four-Fronted War Against Voter Suppression

From Khalil Abdullah’s post, “How to fight the ‘biggest wave of voter suppression’ since 1965” at The Louisiana Weekly:

Voting rights advocates are responding in four main ways. Litigation continues to be the critical bulwark against the implementation unfair voting practices, but, …litigation is expensive and is sure to test of the resources for the organizations like…the ACLU, Brennan Center for Justice, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Leadership Conference, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and others that champion voting rights.
Secondly, public demonstrations and civil disobedience could raise public awareness about the unjust or disparate impact of newly proposed or enacted laws. The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina chapter of NAACP, had some success in rallying protesters against HB 589 and other legislative actions through Moral Monday demonstrations each Monday in Raleigh….The Rev. Joseph Lowery, 91, a former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, used the bully pulpit at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta last week to promote the Voting Rights Project, a new 50-state initiative…
A third front of organizational activity focuses on pressuring Congress to take up the issue of devising a new Section 4 formula so that Section 5 can be fully restored…Section 5, the strongest oversight measure of the Voting Rights Act, allows the Department of Justice to challenge proposed changes in election laws before they could be implemented, if those changes could be shown to have discriminatory impact on minority voters. But it was the findings under Section 4’s formula that triggered the DOJ action… “By invalidating Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the court has effectively eliminated Section 5 federal oversight,” wrote David Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “The current U.S. House of Representatives will almost certainly NOT provide a new definition for Section 4 coverage, and so Section 5 is out for the foreseeable future.”
…While all three prongs of a voting rights offensive may be in play, ultimately, the endgame in voters’ rights may be the passage of a Constitutional amendment explicitly guaranteeing the right to vote. Currently, that right is only implicit under federal law. Resources, again, may be the determinant of whether such a movement can be sustained.

There should also be a fifth ‘front’ in the war against voter suppression — the most energetic voter registration campaign ever launched in key states, which would add leverage to progressive movements for voter protection and reform. Clearly, the outcome on all fronts will be more favorable if Democrats can mobilize a substantially better-than-expected turnout in 2014 and unseat Republicans in congress and state legislatures and governorships.

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