Bernie Hayes

Tuesday, November 6 is general elections day in Missouri. Federal offices that are up for election during the midterms are members of the United States Congress, including all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives, and the full terms for 33 or 34 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate. These include U.S. Senator Clair McCaskill and U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay, if they win their primary races on August 7. I will leave the endorsements to The St. Louis American editorial board. There are many other races also that should be scrutinized and selected.

My question is: Will you, your friends and members of your family exercise your right? Have you done your homework on the issues and parties that are seeking office or asking to be reelected? Are you well informed and not influenced by the series of negative commercials?

We are bombarded with biases in some reporting. Do we understand the significance of truth for the everyday world of human communication? We as the electorate should investigate and seek the truth from politicians and journalists.

There are many different prejudices of some news outlets, which lead them to misrepresent or even ignore facts as experienced by any number of African Americans. It is another form of voter suppression, and apparently it is effective.

According to an NPR report, black voter turnout fell seven percentage points in the last election, plummeting from 66.6 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent in 2016, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Many analysts say a natural drop-off was expected in the post-Barack Obama era. But the 2016 voter turnout for African Americans was not just lower than the Obama years; it was even slightly lower than the 2004 election between George W. Bush and John Kerry.

Chryl Laird of Bowdoin College said some have attributed the decline in black turnout to voter suppression tactics made possible by the 2013 Shelby v. Holder  decision that rescinded key protections from the Voting Rights Act. But black turnout saw similar declines in states where no new voter laws were implemented after the Shelby decision.

The Library of Congress notes: “Many brave and impassioned Americans protested, marched, were arrested and even died working toward voting equality. In 1963 and 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought hundreds of black people to the courthouse in Selma, Alabama to register. When they were turned away, Dr. King organized and led protests that finally turned the tide of American political opinion. In 1964 the Twenty-fourth Amendment prohibited the use of poll taxes. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act directed the Attorney General to enforce the right to vote for African Americans.”

The 1965 Voting Rights Act created a significant change in the status of African Americans throughout the South. The Voting Rights Act prohibited the states from using literacy tests and other methods of excluding African Americans from voting. Prior to this, only an estimated twenty-three percent of voting-age blacks were registered nationally, but by 1969 the number had jumped to sixty-one percent.

I say again, if you are one seeking to ensure equality and justice for all, I hope that you will do your research and that you will vote.  Please don’t be a slacker!

Please watch the Bernie Hayes TV program Saturday night at 10 p.m. and Sunday evenings at 5:30 p.m. on NLEC-TV Ch. 24.2. I can be reached by fax at (314) 837-3369, on e-mail at berhay@swbell.net or on Twitter @berhay.

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