The day after the Supreme Court’s disappointing decision on the Voting Rights Act, Portside.org posted an article documenting the less talked-about economic benefits of the VRA. In addition to an increase in African-American elected leaders, passage of the VRA correlates to improvements in the quality of life for millions of African Americans and other Southerners. The 40 counties in North Carolina covered by the VRA “experienced faster growth in black incomes and occupational status, and attracted more revenue from both county and outside government sources.”
Many of these positive trends are being reversed as radicals in VRA states implement tactics that the VRA made more difficult, such as race-based gerrymandering and barriers to the ballot box. Anti-voting measures constrain the development of African-American leadership, multi-cultural communities, and civic participation. On the other hand, increased voter turnout is tightly linked to success on a host of economic and social indicators. This article is a powerful reminder that voting is not just about a ballot – it’s about the ability of individuals to shape their economy, communities and destiny for themselves and the good of the whole.