Nullification is the true threat to voting rights in America

Nullification is the true threat to voting rights in America
Voters wait on line to cast a ballot in Brooklyn, New York. Wikimedia Commons.
US Civil Rights Commission shelves recommendations for protecting voter rights in November
Frontpage news and politics

As Republican lawmakers continue their efforts to prevent voting expansion across the United States, it appears there are bigger issues than just voter suppression. In a piece published by The Bulwark, the author Linda Chavez explained how and why the bigger problem actually centers on nullification.

"The biggest threat to democracy now is less that voting laws are too restrictive than it is that votes, once lawfully cast, are counted and the results accepted by losers as well as winners," she wrote.

Expressing concern about Republican efforts to reconstruct the Voting Rights Act (VRA) she touched on how dangerous their efforts are to democracy. "Instead of trying to re-write the VRA to overturn court decisions that were anything but radical, democracy advocates should concentrate on limiting the power of partisan losers to overturn the will of the people."

Referencing the 1965 provision added to the VRA, Chavez offered a reminder of why Section 5 was passed in the first place. At the time, Congress expressed concern "that any voting rights law it passed might be subverted by recalcitrant state officials who would simply change the rules to undermine its effectiveness." Because of this, Section 5 was an easily justifiable provision.

However, things are a bit different now. By 2012, the demographics had drastically changed in five of six of the states originally covered under Section 5 of the VRA. Because of this U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts argued that conditions were not nearly as dire as they were decades ago.

"Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions," Roberts insisted.

Despite the demographic changes, Chavez argues that "failure to recognize those changed conditions does not advance the cause of civil rights but merely perpetuates anger and grievance." She also noted that failure to provide updates for the voting rights protections is a grave disservice that is no fault of the Court or the act itself, but rather a failed effort on the part of Congress.

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