Archive for June, 2013

Thoughts on VRA & agreeing with Obama

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

“Today’s Supreme Court decision on the #VRA is a setback, but it does not mean the end of our efforts to stop voting discrimination.” - @BarackObama

President Barack Obama is correct that today’s Supreme Court Decision on the Voting Rights Act “does not mean the end of our efforts to stop voting discrimination.” Mainly because it is Section 2 of the VRA which forbids voter discrimination. Lyle Denniston explains at SCOTUS Blog:

** Section 2, which the Court said was affected “in no way” by the decision, applies permanently to every state and local government across the nation, forbidding discrimination in voting, but the government or a private challenger must prove that in each case, one at a time.

What it does mean is that now if a county is notified that a polling location is in disrepair (for example, burned down), they can move the polling location across the street without first getting permission from the Department of Justice. And if voters or the government believe it is actually a nefarious plot to suppress voters, that decision can still be challenged. And according to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, it means:

“The process for implementation of Constitutional Voter Identification begins today. It will be conducted in accordance with the Constitutional Amendment adopted by the electorate, funded by the Legislature, and regulations as proposed by the Secretary of State.”

Hosemann said Voter-ID should be in place by mid-2014.

It means a lot more in between routine and practical election matters and the implementation of a state Constitutional amendment. Just so far in June of this year, the Department of Justice issued notice under Section 4 & 5 of the Voting Rights Act on 16 different cases in Mississippi involving Bolivar, Carroll, Calhoun, Perry, Rankin, Tishomingo, Harrison, Pike and Hinds counties.

But to President Obama’s point, it does not mean voter discrimination can be allowed. Antics like those by Ike Brown in Noxubee County were prosecuted by the Department of Justice under Section 2 of the VRA.

Mississippi’s lone Democratic congressman, the Second District’s Bennie Thompson, piled on to the hysteria saying in a statement, “Today’s Supreme Court decision will make it harder for many Americans to exercise their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote.” Not true. Either that was already happening but more slowly (not enacted until pre-cleared, but enacted afterward), or voters will have the same protection from the Courts they have always enjoyed.

Essentially, today’s decision says Congress might find a way to require areas to submit election changes to the U.S. Department of Justice for review and approval, but the current method (using 50 year old data) does not work. It does not touch any person’s right to vote or curtail access to the Courts for policies that might impact voting. Or in the words of the decision:

“The [15th] Amendment is not designed to punish for the past; its purpose is to ensure a better future…To serve that purpose, Congress — if it is to divide the States — must identify those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current conditions. It cannot rely simply on the past.”

MS municipal elections to watch today

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Polls are open until 7:00pm tonight for Mississippi’s municipal general elections. I took a look at several mayoral races to watch in my column last week in the Madison County Journal including Hattiesburg, Southaven, Meridian, Tupelo, Ocean Springs, Oxford and Starkville.

Municipal voters will be choosing mayors, aldermen/councilmen, and in some cities police chief and other offices. Brookhaven has a liquor vote on the ballot.

For a Democratic perspective on the races, Cottonmouth also takes a look at the mayoral races in Ocean Springs and Meridian; and Starkville and Tupelo.

Mississippi Political Pulse is plugging the “Democratic Farm Team” with mayoral candidates in Greenwood, Starkville, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Meridian, Tupelo, Laurel, Ocean Springs, Moss Point, Clarksdale, Southaven, Oxford, Canton, Lucedale, Philadelphia, Byram, Columbus, Amory, Booneville and Pass Christian.

The Mississippi Republican Party sent out an e-mail today promoting candidates in Meridian, Ocean springs, Southaven, Starkville, Tupelo, Clinton, Diamondhead, Gautier, Horn Lake, New Albany, Philadelphia, Saltillo, Amory, Biloxi, Gulfport, New Hebron, Senatobia, Booneville, Clarksdale, Columbus, Crystal Springs and Poplarville.

And here is a good recap from the Columbus Dispatch.

The U.S. Department of Justice will be monitoring elections in Brookhaven, Greenwood, Isola, Meridian, Philadelphia and Ruleville. The Mississippi Secretary of State will be observing elections in Meridian and about 20 other cities.

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