MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

July 4, 2013

Update data or play watchdog


— There is no question that racism exists in the United States.

And there is little question that left unsupervised, some communities would try to keep minorities from voting.

There is also little doubt that this country gets it right a lot. It may take longer than we wish, but usually the common sense of United States citizens eventually prevails.

Civil rights were not won overnight.

But they were won. And we are a better nation for learning from our mistakes.

With that in mind, we say United States Supreme Court justices made the correct ruling when it declared one part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional.

The justices determined that one section was based on decades-old data.

We, as a people, have had the time to learn from our mistakes.

We should have grown in the decades that have passed since the Voting Rights Act passed.

These aren’t rose-colored glasses.

You don’t need HD lenses to see racism in the U.S.

But you also need to give people a chance to do what’s right while watching them like a hawk.

Congress has the ability, if not the will, to revise the data and amend the law.

Congress can get right on that or it can get on its perch and watch out for the rights of all its constituents.

The most fair thing would be for Congress to revise the data and see where the nation stands as a whole.

Using updated data would give our nation a clearer picture of how much progress we have made on voting rights issues.

It also would meet the guidelines set out by the Supreme Court when it struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.

Advocates for civil rights and voting rights must do their part, too.

The nation can’t afford to let its guard down in regard to these issues — ever.

But we can’t also assume circumstances never change or people never grow.