Remember in July 2006, when G.W. Bush signed the 25-year extension of provisions under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, with a GOP-controlled congress? Section 5 of the provisions required that nine (mostly southern) states with a long history of voting discrimination to submit any voting changes to the U.S. DOJ for approval before implementation. The vote was bipartisan with the House voting 390-22, and the Senate 98-0. How things have changed.
In 2013, Shelby County, in Alabama, sought to overturn Section 5, and under Chief John Roberts, SCOTUS agreed, ruling to end the voter protections. The day after the ruling, Texas announced strict voter ID laws – which the DOJ had previously blocked – followed by North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi.
Justice Roberts also oversaw the SCOTUS ruling of Citizens United v. FEC (2010), reversing campaign finance restrictions, allowing dark money into our elections. The Republican power grab, through collusion with big money, and the disenfranchisement of eligible American voters, is clearly unconstitutional. And yet, these rightwing lawsuits dismantled our voter protections. Shockingly, Democrats now have to fight Republicans to restore voter protections.
In August 2021, House Democrats passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to restore the Section 5 provisions. In March 2021, House Democrats passed the For the People Act, which seeks to end gerrymandering, set mandates for early and mail-in voting, and bring transparency to campaign financing. Almost all Republicans opposed both.
Senator Schumer vowed to bring the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act for a vote in the Senate before MLK Day January 17th. Also, Michelle Obama announced a push to register 1 million new voters ahead of the 2022 midterms.
We must continue to fight the Republican erosion of democracy through legislation, as the Democrats are doing in Congress, and by getting voters to the polls, like Michelle Obama. Each one of us needs to vote, and also get at least 10 more people to vote.
Chicago native Lorraine Evanoff earned her degree in French from DePaul University then became a Certified Financial Manager. She worked as a finance exec in film production for seven years in Paris, then in Silicon Valley during the dot-com era, and later for various Hollywood production companies, notably as CFO of National Lampoon. She is currently living in Los Angeles with her husband.