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David Crawley (copy)

David Crawley

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court once again diminished our sacred right to vote. Twice.

Its decisions in essence kill what is left of the Votings Rights Act, a bill that was passed in 1965 to protect the hard-won voting rights of people of color, and loosened the floodgates of secret political spending, “dark money,” so that it may flow even more freely and manipulate our government.

In the case of Brnovich, the court has now decided that laws can be enacted that blatantly violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act if they seek to promote “voter integrity,” even in cases where no voter fraud has been demonstrated. Section 2 allows voters to seek judicial relief if they believe a state or local government has denied or limited their voting rights on the basis of their race, color or membership in a language minority group.

As just one example of what this ruling will do, if you end up in the wrong precinct by mistake, as one can easily do when precincts change so often, you no longer are allowed to cast a provisional ballot. This anti-democratic decision will only put up more barriers to voting and further disenfranchise voters.

By declaring that nonprofits do not need to disclose who makes large donations in Bonta, the Supreme Court has empowered wealthy elites to line the pockets of politicians with dark money. Tired of poor internet quality? Done with the opioid epidemic wreaking havoc in our state? With Big Tech and Big Pharma lining the pockets of politicians? What else can we expect?

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The problems that working people, young people and people of color are facing in this country are all a result of one thing — our broken democracy. Big money’s insidious influence, and self-serving politicians’ short-sighted hunger for power, are causing our democracy to crumble.

Increasingly, our democracy is not representative. Money can buy votes, and even voting itself becomes more and more difficult for many groups of people, seemingly every day. Ultimately, this has led to a government that is accountable to corporations and billionaires, but not to the rest of us. These two recent Supreme Court decisions further demonstrate that.

America has often stepped in when similar assaults on democracy have happened in other countries, so why is it now acceptable here?

There’s only one immediate solution to the crisis our country’s foundation is experiencing. We must reduce the role of money in politics and strengthen voting rights by passing the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

The good news for West Virginians is that we have a champion of democracy representing us in Washington. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has demonstrated willingness to pass these bills, legislation that will protect and secure our diminishing right to vote. Now, more than ever, Joe must not let us down.

David Crawley is the director of West Virginia Un-PAC.

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