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Juanita’s Perspectives: The Right to Vote Must Always be Protected

Posted by Juanita Bratcher On December - 3 - 2013

(Part One)

By Juanita Bratcher

Author, Editor & Publisher of CopyLine Magazine

“Literally, since the beginning of civilization, one of the things that the powerful has consistently denied the powerless throughout the centuries has been the right and the privilege to participate in their government, i.e., the right to vote…” – The Late Honorable Illinois Appellate Court Justice R. Eugene Pincham, in a yet unreleased book, “Lest We Never Forget: The Power of the Ballot,” by Author Juanita Bratcher

Some months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court was in the process of revisiting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the Shelby County vs. Holder case, which among other things, challenged Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

During oral arguments concerning the case, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia commented that the law was a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.” And Chief Justice John Roberts pointed to statistics that showed racial disparities as to some aspects of voting in Massachusetts and of that in Mississippi.

When the decision was finally handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court a few months later – June 25, 2013 – Section 4, an integral part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – looked upon as a powerful ingredient of the Act – had been gutted. The vote was 5-4.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called it “a serious setback for voting rights.” And civil rights and human rights activists agreed with Holder. They expressed disappointment and vowed to continue the fight to safeguard and protect the rights of every eligible American to vote.

Striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a stark reminder of a comment made by the late Mississippi U.S. Senator Theodore G. Bilbo in his bid for re-election in 1946. During his re-election campaign, Bilbo said “Niggers” (his word) should not be allowed to vote in this country.

Bilbo was in stark opposition to Blacks having the right to the ballot box.

Said Bilbo: “Do not let a single Nigger register and vote, If you let a few register and vote this year, next year there will be twice as many, and the next thing you know the whole thing will be out-of-hand.”

If out-of-hand meant that more Blacks would be added to the voter registration roll, then one can say he was prophetically accurate in that regard. But the fact that he felt Blacks shouldn’t have the right to vote in this country was evil, mean-spirited, racist and hateful. Every eligible American citizen, regardless of race, color or creed, should be able to exercise their right to vote at the ballot box.

And today, there are some conservative politicians in this country who are using all kinds of tactics to try and diminish the black vote.

“We cannot and will not go back to the dark era of yesteryear when certain citizens could not vote in this country. We must fight tooth and nail, every step of the way, to extinguish efforts by some who would try to disenfranchise voters’ constitutional right to the ballot box” – Juanita Bratcher, Editor & Publisher of CopyLine Magazine

“African Americans encountered various barriers in their efforts to get the right to vote in America – hostile law enforcement officials that were indifferent to them having the audacity to pursue their goal of being added to the registration rolls, insulting literacy tests designed to be difficult, to deny them the right to vote, and the Grandfather’s clause and poll taxes. Voting was mostly under state control. The U.S. Justice Department established that in many counties the tests were ‘administered unfairly.’ Many of these incidences are pointed out in my book, “Lest We Never Forget: The Power of the Ballot.”

During the 2012 Presidential election during Early Voting, I went to three polling places to vote. Ultimately, because of long lines at several polling places, it took four visits before I was able to cast my vote in the 2012 General Election. But it didn’t matter to me; I was determined to cast my vote. And I did! Determined that I would not fail in my efforts to vote in the 2012 election, I finally sealed the deal on my fourth visit to the poll. I went to three different polling places on four different days before things clicked for me. But I would have gone a fifth or sixth time if that would get it done.

Patience is golden. There’s an old saying that states, ‘If once you try and don’t succeed, try, try again.’ And that should be the spirit of every American. We must make certain that the right to vote is protected for everyone that’s eligible.

Reportedly, there are about 34 states where legislation has passed or pending that would require a picture photo to vote (Voter ID). Other ways voters are being disenfranchised are through the abandonment of same-day voter registration, reduction of early voting periods (early voting prior to elections), and other voter suppression efforts. Many of these suppressive efforts are detailed in reports by the Brennan Center, New York University’s School of Law. The most recent one is titled, “Voting Law Changes in 2012”.

Conservative governors and Republican-controlled Legislatures across the country are trying to undercut and undermine the vote through Voter ID laws, purging of Voter Registration Rolls and shortening of voting hours, which, obviously, has the possibility of disenfranchising millions of voters – specifically Blacks, other minorities, senior citizens and young voters. Voter ID laws, purges and shorter voting hours are taking place in several states across the country.

Block the vote

In 2012, we witnessed the shenanigans of Republican governors and Republican Legislatures across the country engaged in passing Voter ID laws and purges of voter registration rolls which will disenfranchise thousands of voters. Voters should be running to the polls in large numbers to vote in order to counteract some of this madness.

Many of us remember during the 2012 Presidential election when Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, at a Republican State Committee meeting, confidently and arrogantly declared that Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law would allow Republican Candidate Mitt Romney a win in the State of Pennsylvania.

Pointing out his legislative accomplishments, Voter ID being one of them, Turzai told Committee members that with Voter ID, winning the state was a “done” deal for Romney.

Said Turzai: “Voter ID, which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: done.”

Turzai’s well-laid out plans were crushed when a federal judge halted the Voter ID law to take place in the November 6, 2012 election.

Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson delayed the implementation of the law until after the November 6 election. He agreed with opponents of the measure that requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls could disenfranchise some voters, although Republicans said the law was put in place to prevent voter fraud. Voters could be asked for photo ID but could not be barred from voting without it.

“There should never be barriers set-up to stop people from exercising their constitutional right to vote in this country,” said Juanita Bratcher, Editor & Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com. “We cannot and will not go back to the dark era of yesteryear when certain citizens could not vote in this country. We must fight tooth and nail, every step of the way, to extinguish efforts by some who would try to disenfranchise voters’ constitutional right to the ballot box. I urge all American voters to participate in the electoral process and vote for the candidate (s) of their choice.”

Bilbo was not alone in his efforts to stop Blacks from voting in this country. That notion exists even today. During the 2012 elections, several Republican governors and majority Republican Legislatures in states across the country enacted certain laws to suppress the vote and disenfranchise certain voters from casting a vote. It is a prime example of that old cliché: The more things change the more they remain the same. Some conservatives are still working on ways to suppress the vote and disenfranchise certain voters.

In years past, some lost their lives in the struggle to get equal voting rights for Blacks in this country.

The late Illinois Appellate Court Justice R. Eugene Pincham and the Honorable Emil Jones, then President of the Illinois State Senate, both wrote outstanding Introductions for “Lest We Never Forget: The Power of the Ballot” which deals with the importance of voting. I was honored to have their assistance, time and efforts, specifically considering their vast knowledge on the subject and in taking time from their busy schedules to accommodate my request. Yet, it was something they felt strongly about, and that was obvious in regards to comments made in their eloquent introductions.

Looking forward toward the 2014 and 2016 national elections, we must do everything in our power to fight the negative influences that seek to take away voting rights from any American citizen. The power of the ballot must always be protected.

Juanita Bratcher is an Award-Winning Journalist, the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com and the author of several books, songwriter and poet. She has been a Journalist for more than 37 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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