Selma offers resolution keeping Section 5 part of Voting Rights ActPublished 7:15pm Friday, March 29, 2013
The Selma City Council became one of the first municipalities to publicly show their support for the continued installation of Section 5 in the Voting Rights Act when the council approved a resolution in support of the voting preclearance Tuesday.
Though the resolution has no legal weight as to whether or not the city of Selma has to gain preclearance through officials in Washington D.C. when changing voting lines, polling locations or other electoral matters, the resolution shows Selma’s support of Section 5 in an official manner.
“The city of Selma recognizes the fight for change and equality and understands the significance of the Voting Rights Movement and the need and support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” the resolution reads.
Though Congress voted to keep the Voting Rights Act in place for 25 more years in 2006, Shelby County has challenged the statute in Federal Court and in the Supreme Court.
In February, Supreme Court Justices heard arguments about the validity of keeping Section 5 in the Voting Rights Act and are expected to render their decision in the coming weeks.
This intent of the provision is to ensure voting line changes — or other electoral changes in a few states — do not negatively discriminate against black or minority voters.
Council members discussed the resolution prior to voting.
“I would encourage each council member to think with their mind and not their emotions about Section 5,” Ward 1 councilman Cecil Williamson, an advocate for removing the section from the act, said after listing Census data to show the majority of the population in Selma to be increasingly an African American majority. He told the council he didn’t believe there would ever be another white mayor or majority white council in the city and therefore the section would be unnecessary.
Ward 7 councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw, a supporter of Section 5, argued she would vote in support of the resolution because her family and people, “still need protection.”
States that abide by Section 5 include Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Georgia.
Williamson and Ward 3 councilmember Greg Bjelke voted against the resolution, while Crenshaw, Council President Corey Bowie, Ward 2 councilmember Susan Keith, Ward 4 councilmember Angela Benjamin and Ward 8 councilmember Michael Johnson voted for the resolution.
Ward 6 councilmember B.L. Tucker abstained from the vote.