Voting rights are sacred in America! The right to vote is fundamental to democracy. They should be guaranteed for each citizen.
At America’s founding, only white male property owners could vote.
By the 1820s, property qualifications for voting began to be eliminated. The 15th Amendment granted the right to vote to Black men, and the 19th, to women.
During the Jim Crow era, intimidation, violence, literacy tests, poll taxes and grandfather clauses were used to prevent voting for Blacks in the South.
The transformative Voting Rights Act of 1965 put federal muscle behind voting rights. If a state wasn’t protecting voting rights, the Department of Justice would take action.
But after the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case, states could again attempt to suppress voting with new laws enacting voter ID requirements, closed polling stations, restrictions on vote by mail and limited voting hours, as recently seen in Georgia.
The state of Washington took a big step in extending voting to ex-felons released from prison. More than 20,000 people stand to regain voting rights when the law takes effect next year.
Supporters said enacting the new law was a matter of racial justice, as those on parole in Washington were disproportionately people of color.
Almost eight percent of Black adults have been prevented from voting because of felony convictions, compared to just under two percent of non-African American citizens.
While African American ex-felons overwhelmingly register as Democratic, non-African American ex-felons typically register 40 percent Republican and 34 percent Democratic.
The bill was sponsored in Olympia by Rep. Tarra Simmons who is likely the first formerly incarcerated legislator in the country.
State Rep. Jeremie Dufault was wrong when he said voting is a privilege and not a right. That attitude is antiquated and un-American.
For Americans, voting is a sacred right essential to our democracy.
Rob Chandler, Sunnyside