Dozens protest Norwood's stance on Voting Rights Act

By: Lynnsey Gardner
By: Lynnsey Gardner

The US House of Representatives today rejected an attempt by congressmen to change the Voting Rights Act. The news will make some local protesters very happy.

The Voting Rights Act was the central piece of legislation of the Civil Rights movement.

But some Southern conservatives say renewing it punishes states like Georgia and South Carolina for sins long past.

Congressman Charlie Norwood was one of those representatives calling for a change.

Civil rights groups are happy that the House took a different stand.

The protest today outside Norwood's Augusta office made one group of voters' message clear: no amendment is needed.

"Augusta is prime for a movement. And what Charlie Norwood doesn't understand is that he's starting a movement," says Charles Steele, Jr., president of SCLC for the CSRA.

"Do the right thing...we are people for all people. We are here to let you know united we stand and divided we fall," said Rev. Larry Freyer of SCLC for the CSRA.

"I don't see white people or black people, or women or men here...I see human beings," says Augusta resident Robert Grant. "And within our society everybody is entitled to vote."

These protestors do not support any change to Section 5 in the Voting Rights Act.

Representative Charlie Norwood says we have come along way since the act was passed in 1965, and Georgia no longer needs federal oversight in order to make changes to state voting laws.

In a speech today on Capitol Hill, Norwood said:

It's now been forty years since the Voting Rights Act took effect. Georgia has a higher percentage of black elected officials than the overwhelming majority of states not included in section 5 federal oversight.

Congressman Norwood says America still needs the Voting Rights Act, but it needs to be enforced nationally, wherever there's a problem.

But again, his amendment to that is dead today on the floor of the House.

The defeat of congressman Norwood's amendment was quickly followed by a vote to renew the Voting Rights Act as originally written.

Here's the sticking point. The places highlighted in this map have to get approval before they make changes to their voting laws:

It's all based on voter turnout from the 1964 election.

Georgia and South Carolina are two of eight states completely covered by the law. Other states have counties or townships that come under Section 5.

Want to read more? To read US House Representative Charlie Norwood's (R) remarks about the Voting Rights Act, click here. For information about US voting rights laws from the Department of Justice, click here.


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