Yesterday, marked the 48th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. In a statement, Democratic Party Whip, Steny Hoyer made some comments showing that responsible lawmakers actually know what’s in a law they support and even laws that were in place before.
They can keep up with new developments and understand the implications of rulings made by a Supreme Court on which at least one Supreme Court Justice’s independence from outside influences is questionable.
It was deeply disappointing in June when the Supreme Court invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, issuing a challenge to Congress to re-write the preclearance formula that protects voters in states and local jurisdictions with a history of discrimination and voter suppression. Congress now has a responsibility to act swiftly to craft legislation that will restore these protections, especially as some states are moving quickly to impose new barriers to the ballot that could disenfranchise many seniors, students, and minorities. I am hopeful that Democrats and Republicans can work together in the coming weeks, as we have in the past, to ensure that every eligible voter can cast a ballot and to demonstrate that the legitimacy of our democratic institutions rests on free, fair, and open elections.
Of course not all lawmakers are responsible, as seen in the case of North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory.
It’s bad enough that the governor didn’t know what was in the voter suppression bill he said was needed solve problems not addressed in existing law. He didn’t even know what was in the existing law.
As Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch noted, when McCrory attempted to justify his state’s version of blocking the vote, he erroneously claimed that North Carolinians can register to vote on line.
It would be nice if McCrory reviewed the current law while he was at it, since he also said at a news conference that people can register to vote online, which is not true. Maybe expecting a governor to be familiar with existing election laws before he signs another one is too much to ask.
Maybe if Governor McCrory spent more time on reading his state’s laws on voting instead of spending time making condescending gestures with one hand, while taking people’s civil rights away with the other, he might realize what he is actually supporting.
He might also understand why North Carolinians rejected his cookies and other pathetic attempts to assure people that stripping them of their rights is for their own good. Underestimating the electorate’s intelligence tends to back-fire.
He wouldn’t even have to read all that boring and complex legal language. For example, he could have gone to the State Board of Elections website. It took me less than a couple of minutes to google the site and ascertain than North Carolinians cannot register to vote on line and never could. That’s far less time then it takes to bake and deliver cookies to protestors who know the difference between civil rights and cookies.
The governor might feel put upon – after all he spent a lot of time delivering cookies and smiling pretty for the camera while making comments that are reminiscent of Sarah Palin.
Meanwhile, Moral Mondays protests are continuing and expanding in scope to Oakland, The Bay Area to protest and Chicago to name a few places where voters also recognize that their rights are worth way more than a plate of cookies.
Republicans should take note from Steny Hoyer: Americans know that cookies are not civil rights.