Jamala Rogers

Jamala Rogers

The state of Wisconsin is the latest to smack down voting rights, the effort fueled by its GOP. A recent decision by the conservative controlled U.S. Supreme Court to block Wisconsin’s redistricting map is another bad omen for voting rights.

It represents a win for the “Big Lie” campaign as Republicans steamroll an anti-democracy, anti-Black, anti-women, and anti-family agenda across the country. The conservative courts, all the way up to the High Court, are in cahoots with Republicans dismantling the coveted 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The hard-fought legislative act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 to protect and preserve voting rights for all, most notably African Americans. This was monumental after many brutal and bloody years of struggle for civil rights in the South. With the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act (VRA), Black people no longer had to jump through obvious and ridiculous obstacles to voting. The ploys included reciting the U.S. Constitution or guessing how many jellybeans were in a jar. Despite the VRA’s passage, African Americans continue to face a tortuous path on their way to the ballot box.

The defeat of former President Trump in 2020 increased the velocity of GOP efforts in states where they can wreak the most havoc. The multi-tiered strategy included the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. It also includes gerrymandering, voter suppression, and removing qualified election officials and replacing them with flunkies. The marketing strategy has been successful. Two-thirds of Republicans still believe Trump is the legitimate president. “The Big Lie” is alive and well.

The Voting Rights Act is dying a slow death by a thousand cuts. Key sections in it contained safeguards for voter discrimination and suppression. For example, if there was gerrymandering that prohibited full voting participation of Black folks, it was easier to bring those cases before federal courts for resolution.

There was also a provision to hold certain rogue states more accountable because they had a history of voting restriction trickery. Before states like Mississippi, Texas, and Florida could change their voting laws, they would be subjected to the “pre-clearance” provision of the VRA. That meant their schemes would have to be presented to the Department of Justice for approval.

This national strategy was illustrated by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law before the 2012 elections. It created a “Map of Shame” to expose voter suppression acts by state. It was not an image that championed full participation of all this nation’s citizens.

Ten years later, the attacks on voting rights are more overt. More than 360 bills that shackle voter participation have been introduced throughout the country. Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin are trying to defend themselves from the Republic wrath.

The Democratic Party seems unable to mount an aggressive campaign to win the battle of public opinion, even if the courts are stacked against them. Democrats don’t have a plan, except to cut deals with treacherous Republicans to save their own district.

We who believe in freedom cannot wait on the Democratic Party to lead this fight. We must develop a comprehensive electoral strategy with clear and uncompromising demands. Voting rights will be a crucial battleground going forward because, like abortion rights, it is a right that conservatives are hell bent on annihilating. 

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