A Voting Rights Act Teleconference

Earlier this afternoon, I was pleased to have the opportunity to get in on a teleconference about the Voting Rights Act with Republican Congressmen Steve King, Lynn Westmoreland, and Phil Gingrey.

As you may have heard, the Voting Rights Act was scheduled to be voted on, but the vote was postponed.

Here’s the short version of the teleconference:

— A lot of Republicans were upset that they weren’t allowed to have an opportunity to amend the Voting Rights Act because the bill would stay in force until 2032. So essentially, either they had to make changes now or wait 25 years for another shot. That’s why the vote was delayed.

— Steve King wants to dump the mandated requirement to provide multilingual ballots because in his view, it’s expensive and practically pointless. After all, anyone born here should be able to speak English and anyone who becomes an American citizen is required to learn English. So, why force every state to provide ballots in languages other than English? If they want to do it, fine, but King thinks it shouldn’t be mandatory.

— Another problem is that some of the people from Southern states resent having to run every minor change they make through the Department of Justice based on what the voting rights situation was in 1965. To tell you the truth, I think they have a great point. An American who’s in the minority, or any other American for that matter, probably has a better chance of having his vote counted in South Carolina or Mississippi than he does of having it correctly tabulated in South Dakota or Wisconsin, given some of the shenanigans that have gone on in those states. So why should they still be penalized for things that happened 40 years ago?

— King thinks that it will be close, but if the Republican leadership backs it, the multilingual ballot requirement can be dumped. As far as the situation with the Southern states goes, it sounds like they’re just shooting to make it easier for counties in the affected states to get out from under the DOJ requirements, rather than a blanket removal.

— Whatever the case may be, provisions of the Voting Rights Act aren’t scheduled to expire until 2007, so they do have plenty of time to vote and eventually, the Voting Rights Act will be passed.

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