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Blog: We Should Celebrate How Far We Have Come From 1965

August 26, 2021

By Ken Blackwell

This past Tuesday, on a straight party-line vote, Congress passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or H.R. 4. This bill is a blatant power grab and an attempt to federalize our elections. It’s also an effort to make states unable to defend safeguards like voter ID in court.

It was argued that this bill was necessary to protect and allow minorities to vote. They claim we are seeing the rise of Jim Crow 2.0. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Jim Crow was about firehoses and German Shepherds, not a driver’s license.

When the original Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, we lived in a substantially different country. The South was ruled by Jim Crow laws where African Americans were segregated in public places from white people.

When it came to exercising their constitutional right to vote, African Americans often faced literacy tests designed to keep them from the ballot box. At some polling places, election officials would even force African Americans to recite the entire Constitution to be able to vote. The good news is The Voting Rights Act of 1965 worked. It opened the ballot box to African Americans. The 2018 and 2020 elections saw record turnout among minority communities. Today, it has never been easier to register and vote.

H.R. 4 would actually prohibit states from talking about record minority turnout in a court case. African Americans are not only voting but holding political office across the country. Look at Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), an African American senator from South Carolina, one of the states covered by the original Voting Rights Act.

We should celebrate how far we have come as a country in nearly six decades.

Instead, the Left ignores the progress we have made. They tell us that voter ID laws are racially motivated and the new Jim Crow. They use it to justify a federal takeover of elections.

H.R. 4 at its heart is an attempt by one to protect its majority in Congress. It has nothing to do with protecting minority communities’ access to the ballot.

This bill is an unconstitutional power grab designed to put career bureaucrats at the DOJ in total control of all election changes.

Election Integrity is not Jim Crow. It’s insulting to say it is. Politicians should stop using race to institute a federal takeover of our elections.

Ken Blackwell is the Chairman of the Center for Election Integrity at AFPI and a member of the Public Interest Legal Foundation board of directors.