For those concerned about the Voting Rights Act

Thought I’d share with you a post I made on Facebook.

It would be a mistake to assume that the Voting Rights Act in any way ensured that all African Americans were able to vote. The biggest factor in suppressing minority vote is not even addressed by the Voting Rights Act — felony disenfranchisement.

5.8 million Americans are unable to vote because of our obsession with over-incarceration and the drug war, and it hits minorities hardest by a long shot. 1 in 13 African-Americans nationally are unable to vote. Given current rates of incarceration, three in ten of the next generation of black men can expect to be disenfranchised at some point in their lifetime. In states that disenfranchise ex-offenders, as many as 40% of black men may permanently lose their right to vote (source: Sentencing Project).

Drug war incarceration has been referred to as the “New Jim Crow,” and built right into our drug laws are enforcement incentives that make racist outcomes certain.

Despite the fact that blacks and whites use drugs at roughly the same rate, in our enlightened northern state of Illinois, blacks are 7.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites (see ACLU report released this month). Federally, blacks now make up 82% of crack defendants, up from 79% in 2009. In every aspect of the drug war you find similar results, with African Americans (and Hispanics) bearing a dramatically disproportionate share.

So go ahead and mourn the death of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which provided some useful election oversight in certain states and counties determined 40 years ago. Howl at the injustice of the Justices.

But if you really care about making sure all Americans are enfranchised, then you might be better off working to end this racist drug war.

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9 Responses to For those concerned about the Voting Rights Act

  1. darkcycle says:

    No comment.

  2. Pingback: On Voting Rights, a Decision as Lamentable as Plessy or Dred Scott – The Atlantic |

  3. Frank W says:

    But you’ll never see Al Sharpton or Maddow mention it. They toe the party line.

  4. Dante says:

    Very well said. Solving the drug war problem will solve a lot of other problems too. They are all wrapped up in each other (the drug war, over-incarceration, voter suppression, institutional racism of government agencies, civil rights violations, unaccountability of “public servants”, budgets gone crazy-lavish, etc.).

    It’s not one political party or government agency or rogue petty tyrant doing all this. It is the whole enchilada.

    Thank you, Pete.

  5. Duncan20903 says:


    I’ve never really understood the point of disenfranchising convicts. What, are they worried that they’re going to vote crooks into office? It doesn’t appear to me that the crooks need any help getting themselves elected. BTW there are 2 States which don’t take away the right to vote, Maine and Vermont.

    All Canadians have the right to vote, even Canadians in prison on Election Day.

    I wonder, did Marc Emery cast while he was in one of our prisons? I didn’t find anything one way or the other. No reference makes me presume that he did because I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t have caused a brouhaha if he was denied his vote.

    But this isn’t something I expected to find: Marc Emery’s filmography I thought it was just coincidence at first until I looked at his list of credits. That’s our friend Marc, no doubt. I can tell because of the entry that says “Nickname: The Prince of Pot”.

    • N.T. Greene says:

      I have often wondered the same myself. It seems to me as though they wouldn’t want those people casting votes for people who might change the laws.

      This has a whole lot to do with the drug war, if you think about it. Talk about an insurance plan. Arrest hundreds of thousands for ridiculous reasons and then prevent them from making their voices heard when they wish to speak out against the policies and/or laws.

      And in this country? Shit. Who really cares what the criminals think anyways? Criminals aren’t people in the eyes of the media, despite the fact that the crimes being committed are products of a dysfunctional society with archaic laws.

      In forty years they’re going to look back at this moment in time… and sigh.

  6. Duncan20903 says:


    I’m kind of surprised that we haven’t discussed Google Grants giving a contribution worth almost 1/4 million dollars to promote medicinal cannabis patient protection in Michigan. I’m shocked. Google won’t even offer suggestions if you type the word “marijuana” into their search for field.
    Medical Marijuana Group Gets $240,000 Google Grant

    Who the heck can say why they picked Michigan Compassion?

  7. Pingback: For those concerned about the Voting Rights Act | The Freedom Watch

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