High court grants minorities extra votes
by S. Kidd Mark
WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 25, 2010 — The U.S. Supreme Court today affirmed a lower court ruling that granted extra ballots to minority voters in New York State and then expanded the ruling to include all elections.
In a 5-4 decision the high court agreed with the lobbying group Legalization of Latinos (LOL) and the Obama Administration that Hispanic voters deserve six votes each, while white voters are permitted just one. The justices also granted extra votes to other minorities, including African Americans (eight votes per person), native Americans (seven votes), Muslims (six), atheists (five), Wiccans and transexuals (four), Pacific Islanders (three), and Jews and Asians (two each).
The ruling stemmed from a decision by Federal Judge Stephen Robinson, who said past elections based on actual votes were unfair to minorities because many of them lacked legal immigration papers and because turnout even among legal minority voters was low.
Robinson mandated that each Latino voter received six votes each in June's election that resulted in the first Latino and the first African-American trustee in the village government.
FairVote, a voting advocacy group that supervised the election with funding from the governments of Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala and Peru, called the election an astounding success. FairVote's Election Chairperson Celia Short at the time predicted wide-spread adoption of cumulative voting as a way to counteract the "unfair and pernicious method of voting by majority rule."
"Minorities have never had a fair shot at winning office in America," she said, "but the problem has increased as a higher percentage of voters are undocumented immigrants. We salute Judge Robinson for creating a method whereby voters who are outnumbered at the polls still can have a say in what goes on in their government."
The Supreme Court ordered that cumulative voting is to stay in place until the Federal Election Commission certifies that minorities have "adequate representation that is indicative of their numbers in local, state and federal government."
Oddly, Latinos were not minorities in Port Chester, where they comprise 52 percent of residents. Yet few went to the polls, including Latinos who were legal residents, and then, exacerbating the problem, many Latino voters persisted in voting for non-Hispanic white representatives.
"Cumulative voting has been represented as the only logical and fair method of ensuring adequate representation by representatives who are representative of the actual numbers of residents who chronically have been underrepresented," wrote the newest member of the Supreme Court, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, who penned the majority opinion. "The Constitution demands that representation must be representative of the actual numbers of minority residents, regardless of whether they are documented citizens. Rule by majority is an outdated and anachronistic concept that has been discredited by the failures of more than 200 years of abuse."
Conservatives had argued that no person should get more than one vote, but Kagan and four other justices decided that additional votes were required to ensure that regulations, welfare payments, rent subsidies and wealth redistribution are favorable to minorities.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a strongly worded dissenting opinion, accusing the majority justices of ignoring the Constitution, which originally apportioned representatives according to actual numbers of free persons and three fifths of slaves.
Justice Kagan appeared at a rare press conference today after the opinion was released and answered questions from reporters. She said the Constitution is "a living, breathing document, meaning that it can grow and change like a living tumor."
"What keeps the Constitution alive is the U.S. Supreme Court," she said. "As we justices observe society, we breathe life into the Constitution by interpreting it in ways that permit modernization and conformance with current societal mores and trends. Otherwise, the document would continue to mean what its founders intended, an untenable situation for citizens who are dissatisfied with majority rule. Though the Constitution permits amendments, the process, which calls for a three-fourths majority ratification by the individual states, is an unreasonable and unjustified requirement."
"Happy day! Happy day!" cried NAACP Voting Director Reid Enright when informed of the decision today. "This long-awaited change should ensure that our party, the Democrat Party, which has consistently represented the interests of undocumented immigrants and welfare recipients, retains the House and the Senate, which means President Obama will be able to advance his agenda over the next six years.
"Now we can really make a push for fair redistribution of wealth. Our next step will be to allow minorities to file additional tax returns for tax refunds and earned income credit."
In recent years minorities were able to cast additional votes only through a great deal of effort, such as visiting multiple polling places in states that prohibit election workers from asking for identification. ACORN and other federally funded organizations charged with getting out the minority vote were busing individual African-Americans and Hispanics to as many as seven polling places in one day.
"It hasn't been quite as hard the past few election cycles to get out the additional vote," said Florida-based community organizer Pierce Deere, "because many precincts now permit early voting. That has been a real boon for us because many of our voters now can cast ballots for two solid weeks at various locales. In the 2008 presidential election, we had some of our more dedicated voters cast as many as 70 votes in those two weeks."
Former ACORN Vice-President and current FairVote Chairwoman Leica Mill Young said voters who had been paid to cast multiple votes were reluctant to do so even with assurances that they would not be prosecuted by the Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder.
"This landmark ruling, along with the Justice Department's decision to allow intimidation of majority voters, should greatly magnify our get-out-the-vote effort," she said.
"As long as majority voters behave themselves," she said, "we are convinced that cumulative voting will be a resounding success. But if whites complain too much, we will petition to reduce white voters to three-fifths of a vote apiece."
Hal E. Tosis, President Obama's czar of the Federal Agency of Income Redistribution (FAIR), said he is concerned that cumulative voting could lead to the granting of additional votes to wealthy voters.
"As our efforts to reduce the poverty gap succeed," he said, "wealthy voters are becoming more and more a minority. It would be a disaster if they were given enough votes to counter majority rule. After decades of hard work, the War on Poverty has finally permitted a majority of U.S. citizens to receive more from the government than they contribute. Now that they can vote to transfer wealth from the minority, a change now could be catastrophic."
Quote of the Day
"Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built." — Abraham Lincoln