Sunday, April 22, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Protect voting rights from new assaults

After the U.S. Supreme Court neutered a key portion of the Voting Rights Act, it didn't take long for states to resurrect efforts to put limits on voting that harm minorities. That left it to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to aggressively use other sections of the law instead of the protections the court has dismantled. Holder should keep his eye on Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott is determined to purge the voter rolls even though the first attempt last year was a mess and was rejected by county elections supervisors.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June that the act's preclearance formula was invalid. It released all covered jurisdictions, nine states and dozens of localities — including Florida's Hillsborough, Collier, Hardy, Hendry and Monroe counties — from having to get federal approval before adopting new voting procedures. The move undermined the most effective means of preventing discriminatory voting changes in states with a history of bias, particularly in the South.

Holder's response is the best available under the circumstances. He plans to invoke a rarely used provision of the Voting Rights Act, Section 3, to ask the federal judiciary to impose preclearance requirements where discrimination in voting persists. Holder made his first stand in Texas in a lawsuit where black and Hispanic voters challenged the state's redistricting maps. The Justice Department also may seek help from the federal courts in North Carolina, which is on the verge of adopting strict new voter ID requirements and shortening early voting by a week, which will adversely affect minority and low-income voters.

Section 3 requires a showing of intentional discrimination, a tougher standard than in other parts of the law where demonstrating a discriminatory impact is sufficient. But in states where minority voters tend to vote as a bloc against the party in power, it should be clear enough that lawmakers use subtle tactics like tough and expensive voter ID rules or cut back on early voting to dilute minority voting strength.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner plans to reinstitute a voter purge of noncitizens that was eventually dropped before the November election after elections supervisors and the Justice Department protested. The state claims the lists are more reliable now that they are cross-checked with a federal database managed by the Department of Homeland Security, but elections supervisors are justifiably wary. After the Supreme Court's voting rights ruling, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a suit challenging the purge.

Of course noncitizens should not be allowed to vote in Florida. But Holder should review Florida's situation and be prepared to go to federal court if the state fails to protect the voting rights of minority citizens as it seeks to purge the rolls. A statewide preclearance requirement would protect the state's minority voters from efforts to make voting harder, and it would protect the fundamental right to vote for all.

Comments
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18