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Updated on July 2, 2015

Some States Discriminate Against Minorities

With the tragic slaying of African Americans in Charleston, people are becoming more aware of issues facing people of color in America. While it is good to see the Confederate flag being taken down at many state capitols, we also need to focus on the Voting Rights Act of 2015. This act is about the every day rights of people.

Historically a number of southern states discriminated against people of color. Poll taxes and voter tests were instituted to keep people of color from voting in elections. In a number of these states black citizens make up the majority of the population, so certain white individuals were afraid of giving power to the black majority. If you saw the movie, Selma, you will recall the scene where a black woman is asked numerous questions including naming all the 67 counties in the state of Alabama. No white person was ever asked these questions. There were Jim Crow Laws which separated whites and people of color. Blacks and other people of color attended separate schools and shopped at businesses who would welcome them. Eventually President Lyndon Johnson was so moved by the actions on the bridge at Selma that he initiated the process so that the Voting Rights of 1964 was finally passed by the Congress. He saw all the public support that he knew he had to act to do what was right.

In the United States Congress now there is a piece of legislation being considered called the Voting Rights Act of 2015. Section 4 of the Voting Rights of 1964 lists nine states which historically discriminated against people of color: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Parts of six other states were also involved with discrimination towards minorities: California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota. Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans and Native Americans were the groups who were harmed by the state laws on voting and Jim Crow Laws. The states which historically discriminated are watched by the federal government and they must abide by certain practices in order to receive federal funding.

The Voting Rights Act of 2015 restores the sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 which were struck down by the Supreme Court decision of Shelby County v. Holder on June 23, 2013. This new act includes these states: Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia. It will be in force for 10 years if it is passed by Congress.

In Minnesota we voted down a so-called "Constitutional Amendment" calling for a voter-ID law. In fact Minnesota has one of the best election systems in the country for voter participation for it is considered a model system in this regard. Minnesota allows same day registration and various forms of proof of residency. You can use a tribal ID, college ID, state ID, driver license, have someone vouch for you who lives in your district or bring in a copy of an utility bill with your address on it. Minnesota gets wide participation and great voter turn out in many of the elections.

People of color, low income people, elderly, college students, Native Americans, military members and transgender individuals have been discriminated against by requiring photo ID. Some elderly people do not have birth certificates and it can cost $200 to get a birth certificate when you do not have one on file. Some of these individuals only have baptismal certificates to show any indication of their age. IDs can cost a lot of money in some states, so this is a barrier to minorities, low income individuals and elderly. Transgender people change appearance after surgery, so the photo ID can cause them problems. College students and Native Americans often do not have photo IDs. The college student often has a college ID and has moved from their original state. The Native American has the tribal ID which does not have a photo in some cases. Cost of regular IDs can be barrier for both groups.

The boundaries of certain districts can be changed to favor the white majority rather than having districts which have a majority of minority people in them. Polling stations get closed, so this discourages minority participation in elections. Funding for bi-lingual election materials can get cut and these cuts effect minority participation in elections. Voting guides in Spanish, Hmong and Somali are needed in some areas to foster voter participation. Other languages are dominate in other states and the bi-lingual materials are helpful to those groups of people.

The new voting rights act will address all these concerns in a fair manner. Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have come out in support of this legislation. Contact your member of Congress to register your support.

In India the Brits oppressed the Indians, but Gandhi and others stood up for human rights and fairness. Many people worldwide joined the movement. Justice is best. Injustice causes suffering to many. We must be like Gandhi. We must be the change we want to see in the world.



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    • radhapriestess profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thanks for reading H Schneider. That is why people have to come out every election.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      The Voting Rights Act should never have been neutered by the Supreme Court. The law has always worked and now that it has been stripped, all GOP led state legislatures are passing restrictive laws because the demographics and issues are against them. A new and stronger Act would be great but the GOP are in charge because Democrats don't show up in off years at the polls. Come out and vote in every election and these draconian dinosaurs will disappear. Great Hub, Radhapriestess. Sorry for the rant but the whole situation annoys me to no end.

    • radhapriestess profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thanks for reading Venkatachari M. Voting are very important in bringing social change and empowering everyone.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting topic on one of the most important subjects of human rights. Voting rights should be equal and impartial to all sections of society irrespective of their race or color. You have brought up this point clear cut with your hub. Thanks a lot. Voted up.

    • radhapriestess profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Thanks for reading lioness13 & Kathleen Cochran. Thanks for the suggestions on the IDs. Awhile back they had introduced a bill in Congress to institute the system we have Minnesota nationwide. Every one should be able to vote. The reason they want to institute the barriers is to stop people who historically vote for the Democratic Party, so the corporate elite can more power of the populous. Equality is what the constitution is about. Exclusion is not what our country is about.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 

      3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Well done. I think being able to register to vote on Election Day is the best way to ensure mass participation. I.D.s? Sam's Club can make you a photo I.D. on the spot. Why can't poll workers? Click and store in a nationwide data base - you're done. Whoever you are on that day is who you will be from now on based on your social security number. We store the photo electronically and it gets transferred to your new polling place when you send in a change of address. On Election Day you enter your SS number (at the polling place - not on your ballot) to ensure you only vote once. Problem solved.

    • lyoness913 profile image

      Summer LeBlanc 

      3 years ago from H-Town

      Here Here! Equality to everyone!



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