News 12 at 11 o'clock / Tuesday, June 25, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The Supreme Court made a big decision Tuesday on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The law was made to protect the rights of minority voters, but Tuesday afternoon, the justices decided the formula used to identify discriminating states or counties is out of date.
"We've come a long way since the 60s," Hearie Thomas said.
Thomas remembers the time when his parents first got to vote. He says he's afraid Tuesday's ruling could cost him his vote, but the head of elections says it won't.
"Voters in Augusta will see no change in their elections procedures and practices," said Lynn Bailey.
Bailey says in 28 years as the head of elections in Augusta, her office has had no issues giving everyone access to voting. She's still combing through the 68-page decision handed down Tuesday by the nation's top court, but she's already noticing changes that will affect her department.
"The lifting of an additional administrative process that we would normally be required to do," she said.
Basically, her office, along with others across the nation, including South Carolina, will no longer have to inform the Department of Justice of changes like voter registration drives, changing polling locations and even redistricting.
Bob Finnegan says the nation's progress led to Tuesday's ruling, but it shouldn't scare anyone, including minorities.
"What the Supreme Court has said is the formula and the criteria that's been being used is outdated and needs to be re-looked," Finnegan said.
And while Thomas agrees the changes are evident, he says he hopes he never loses the feeling his parents had their first time voting.
"They were happy to be able to vote," Thomas said.
Reaction to the decision has been varied. Augusta's NAACP president called it a bad decision that could lead to future issues.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says, "The Supreme Court decision now puts South Carolina on equal footing with every other state in the nation. As a South Carolinian, I'm glad we will no longer be singled out and treated differently than our sister states."