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Voting Rights Act as important as ever

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As the Supreme Court justices weigh the future of the Voting Rights Act, Emory political scientist Alan Abramowitz writes in a recent analysis that it should be an easy decision — don’t mess with it.

"There is no doubt that old-fashioned racism has greatly diminished over the past 40 years throughout the nation and in the states covered by Section 5," writes Abramowitz, a national politics expert, in an article published March 7 for Larry Sabato’s "Crystal Ball" website produced by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

"However, there are good reasons to be concerned about how a decision to overturn Section 5 would affect the voting rights of African Americans and other minorities in these states — for reasons that are more political than racial," Abramowitz writes.

In the article, Abramowitz argues that in the states, mostly in the South, covered by Section 5, which requires all voting changes in those states to be approved by the federal government, voting is severely divided along racial lines — African Americans and other non-whites for Democrats and whites for Republicans. All of these states today are dominated by the Republican Party.

"This means that political leaders in these states have a powerful incentive to suppress or dilute the votes of African Americans and other minorities because these groups make up the large majority of the Democratic electoral base in their states," Abramowitz writes. "Moreover, as the majority party, they also have the ability to enact laws and regulations to accomplish these goals."

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