There’s a reason why Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The law guarantees the right to vote and makes it illegal to use discriminatory practices designed to keep people such as African-Americans from voting. Things like literacy tests and poll taxes that denied people the right to vote under Jim Crow laws in the South were finally destroyed. But according to one senate candidate in Missouri, we should scrap the Voting Rights Act with the states free to make their own voting policies, even if they are discriminatory.
Todd Akin is the Republican candidate for Senate of Missouri and he’s one of the most extreme conservatives running for public office this year. He is so extreme that his Democratic opponent, Claire McCaskill, is absolutely thrilled that he won the GOP primary election. During a radio interview on Fox 2, Akin demonstrated that extremism when asked if we should change or repeal Voting Right Act of 1965.
Akin declared that voting is a state’s rights issue and that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be “looked at or overturned” because elections ￼￼“have historically always been a state thing.” Akin went on to call it “good principle” to let states control voting rights.
Here’s the clip via ThinkProgress:
Akin is, of course, completely wrong about this issue. The Voting Rights Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation on the books today, and it is more important than ever before. Current Republican efforts to suppress the vote in several states has disenfranchised millions of voters, including minority voters. The so-called voter ID laws are essentially a poll tax on poor people who don’t have a picture ID. And historically, while states did control voting rights, many states, mostly in the South, basically banned African-Americans from voting. Considering current conservative attitudes towards women, the poor, minorities, and young people, repealing the Voting Rights Act would undoubtedly lead to the extinction of voting rights for these groups in many red states. Some conservatives have voiced opinions that college students should not be allowed to vote. Some have decried women having the vote. Others have declared that only those with property should have the right to vote.
Clearly, repealing the Voting Rights Act would be a disaster in this country. And if Republicans are allowed to repeal it, it wouldn’t be too long before they call for the repeal of women’s voting rights and other rights as well, all in the name of state’s rights. This is nothing more than a Republican call to reinstate Jim Crow in order to suppress the vote. Todd Akin has since tried to spin his way out of his radio remarks by claiming that he didn’t say what he said and that he supports voting rights. His sudden reversal and denial shouldn’t erase his earlier stance. On the contrary, Missourians should take Akin’s original comments very seriously as his true stance, and should punish him at the polls this November by using their right to vote to keep him out of political office. Voting rights should never be on the table for repeal. And when they are, it’s a threat to democracy and freedom.