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Why The Supreme Court's Ruling in the Voting Rights Act Case Doesn't Matter for Homewood

Posted by Shawn Carter on June 28, 2013 at 9:40 AM

There is a very simple reason why the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 doesn’t really matter for Homewood:

We don’t vote.

No law or government action will ever be as effective at disenfranchising African-Americans from registering to vote or voting as African-Americans are at disenfranchising African-Americans.

But as for why the Court invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, I guess the Court must have thought, "We warned Congress in 2009 that the coverage formula was stale and they didn't fix it. We have spent the last 3 years upholding Section 5 on technicalities in the law and the lawsuits, Shelby County v. Holder is as good a case as any to rid ourselves of these constant Section 4 and 5 challenges, because Congress can't fix Section 4 anytime soon anyway, and we won't have to deal with this again, for some time."

In a variety of different ways, they actually did say this:


  • You don't have to be a white male landowner to vote or run for office anymore;
  • You don't have to be exclusively a white male to vote or run for office anymore;
  • You don't have to be exclusively white to vote or run for office anymore;
  • There are no poll taxes;
  • There are no poll tests;
  • Voter identifications laws, done properly and phased in reasonably, are far less burdensome than they might have been 50 years ago were they in place;
  • We all know that elections, even in African-American communities, are all held on the same day;
  • And perhaps most importantly, THEY. DON'T. LYNCH. YOU. ANYMORE!


Last week, Elwin lamented that a scant 18% of registered voters in Homewood bothered exercising the franchise in the May 21 Primary Elections. I share his frustrations.

That is the kind of result that some people fear VoterID would produce. But we can't blame VoterID. It's still in a judicial coma.

Opponents of VoterID admit that according to state elections officials only somewhere in the neighborhood of 410,000 voters could be denied the ability to cast ballots if the law is allowed to stand.

410,000 voters. Out of 8,508,015 voters. That's only 5 percent. That's five times more endangered voters than the same Commonwealth officials fessed up to just a year ago, but who's counting?

This guy. Thank goodness for the ACLU.

Because, come to think of it, Obama crushed Romney last year by 309,840 votes, a whopping 5.4%!

Thank goodness for the 68% turnout in that election. Even higher in some parts of the African-American community.

Which demonstrates a very important point. It's easier to steal elections when 82% of the voters don't participate.

When was the last time you heard of a case where some candidate rigged a blowout victory in his or her election?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Homewood had a total of 6,370 residents in 2010.

Homewood has 5,128 registered voters.

Of that number, 917 showed up to vote in an election whose outcome has such direct impact on their immediate daily lives.

No action of the government is responsible for that.

The problem with voting rights isn't Congress, or racists, or jurists, the problem lies with the supermajority of us who can but do not vote.

Voting may not solve everything. That truth wasn't lost on those who made the sacrifices for us (but, sadly, it appears lost on many of us).

This is why they also sacrificed to desegregate the nation, to gain better jobs for the poor, to keep young Americans from dying in wars overseas and to participate more fully in the economic arena.

I do wonder what one man, in particular, would have to say to us today about the rights so many of our forefathers and mothers fought and died for and which so many of "we the beneficiaries" have abandoned our responsibility to.

Aaron MacGruder had a thought about that a few years ago in his cartoon:

Keep that in mind.

This, as we will go into further depth in a subsequent post, is an ever recurring theme.

Thank you for this time.

Categories: Citizenship and Governance

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Reply PDavis
9:07 PM on June 30, 2013 
Sad but true and I want to be part of the solution. What kinds of things can we try to get folks interested in voting? I drove people to the polls in 2010 and a young brother said to me that he voted for the first time in 2008 to support Obama and thought he better vote again in 2010 so Obama would have the "right folks around him" and I said that was a start. Then he asked me seriously how do I know what to vote for and who to vote for? I had all kinds of ideas and thoughts and said to him maybe we need some "voter education parties" just to start the conversation. He said that sounded good and might appeal,to young people. It was just a wild idea on my part but I wish I could come up with a way to make that a reality.
Reply Queen Lucille
1:52 PM on July 1, 2013 
It is true that many Homewood residents don't vote, just as many residents of other communities don't vote, in large numbers, either. But to say that the Supreme Court's Voting Rights Ruling "doesn't matter" for Homewood residents is untrue. It matters to those of us that always, sometimes, rarely and never vote! It matters because those that came before us made it possible for us to vote, and that legacy needs to be passed on and supported in every way possible. But more importantly, and if you really care, why don't you investigate the reason(s) we supposedly don't vote? Many will tell you we don't vote because we don't see the benefit. We feel that our elected officials are not visible in the community, and that they don't have our best interest in mind when making decisions. Many of them we only see when they are campaigning for re-election, pushing their own agenda, or want our support after they have already made a decision that affects our lives, but never ask for our input prior to the decision being made. When we look out of our window we see the same hopelessness and desolation that too many of us have seen for far too long. We get negative criticism such as this, but never any positive, helpful information that can assist us in becoming more informed voters, or improve our conditions. You seem to have some expertise in this field. Why don't you organize Voter Education Forums, or some other activity that would encourage more voter engagement in Homewood? I anxiously await your response!