No Vote, No Voice

Published 1:29 pm Sunday, November 4, 2018

By Demetrius Moffett


On March 7, 1965, in an event that came to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” state troopers descended on peaceful protestors in an unprovoked attack on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama where protestors were en route to the state capital in Montgomery.

In response to this event and other acts of violence, President Johnson called for effective voting rights legislation. Subsequently, hearings began on the bill that would become the Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted to address entrenched racial discrimination in voting, an insidious and pervasive evil which had been perpetuated in certain parts of our country through unremitting and ingenious defiance of the Constitution.

In Shelby County, Alabama vs. Eric Holder Attorney General “, Section 4 of the Act provides the “coverage formula,” defining the “covered jurisdictions” as States or political subdivisions that maintained tests or devices as prerequisites to voting, and had low voter registration or turnout, in the 1960s and early 1970s.

In those covered jurisdictions, Section 5 of the Act provides that no change in voting procedures can take effect until approved by specified federal authorities in Washington, D. C. Such approval is known as “preclearance.”

In a 5-4 split, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Voting Rights Act had achieved its main purpose (Shelby County v. Holder). Specifically, the Court overturned Section 4 of the Act, which laid out the formula for determining which states had to seek approval prior to enacting new voting laws. While Section 5 specifically addresses this requirement, the ruling on Section 4 renders Section 5 ineffective.

Critics of the ruling, including Justice Ginsburg, argue that attempts to restrict minority voting in many southern states is still rampant, citing efforts in many states to redraw district maps in order to minimize the will of minorities.

Justices in the majority, however, claim that the special requirements for certain states are based on information from the 1960s. Therefore, the Court left the door open for Congress to update the Act by coming up with a new formula that complies with the 2013 ruling.

Our right to vote is not a given. It’s time to voice our views with our vote. Every election is crucial, of great importance. If we don’t use it, we could lose it. Let your voice be heard. No Vote, No Voice. Speak Loud this Tuesday. Our future depends on it.


Demetrius Moffett is Senior Pastor of Orange Church of God, 1911 North 16th Street in Orange.