Letter to the Editor
Section 5 of the Civil Rights Act (1965) is a provision aimed at protecting particular racial groups in states with a certain history of voter discrimination. It is argued that this provision is just a relic of the civil rights era, discriminatory to states that have as much right to change their laws as any other, in a time when racial discrimination is no longer the issue it once was (we do have a black president after all).
I would argue that the wealth of voter I.D. laws that have been enacted in the past couple of years, weakly justified in the name of voter fraud protection, clearly demonstrate discrimination to be alive and well.
It has been shown that strict voter photo I.D. laws disproportionately affect the elderly, the disabled and those of lower socio-economic status associated with African Americans and other minority groups. There are clear political benefits to discouraging the enactment of a basic civil right from groups that are increasingly influential in the election outcome. With the growing polarization of the political parties, this type of politically driven discrimination is set to propagate.
Sadly Section 5 is indeed outdated. It seems clear to me that all states should be answerable to an outside review and judgment prior to enacting new voter I.D. laws. As has been shown in the past election, states answerable only to themselves can all too easily silence the voice of those groups that the landmark act of 1965 so nobly set out to protect.
-Stephanie Love, Lexington.