Voting rights: bipartisan no more

Jim Chrisinger: Today, as in 1965 and in every Voting Rights Act reauthorization vote, Republican senators have to choose.

For more than five decades, voting rights in America enjoyed strong, bipartisan support. Now Republicans have turned their backs.  

The Voting Rights Act originally passed in 1965, led by President Lyndon Johnson, who had built his political career as a get-along go-along ally of Southern segregationists.  

The final vote in the House was 328–74 (Democrats 217–54, Republicans 111–20). The Senate passed it 79–18 (Democrats 49–17, Republicans 30–1). Much of the opposition came from Southern Democrats.  

Bipartisan majorities in Congress reauthorized the act five times, most recently in 2006. The votes were not close. Even Senator Strom Thurmond, famous segregationist and 1948 Dixiecrat presidential candidate, came to support the Voting Rights Act.  

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2021 in review and 2022 challenges

Steve Corbin is a freelance writer and emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa.

Reflecting on 2021’s highs and lows plus contemplating what’s ahead in 2022 is reality therapy; good for the soul.

During 2021 we witnessed the “Big Lie,” an attempted presidential coup, a Congressional power shift, a booming economy, a botched Afghanistan exit, COVID-19 vaccination success and anti-vax woes, and disinformation and misinformation campaigns. The list goes on . . . including:

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Lawsuit challenges English-only voting materials in Iowa

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Iowa is seeking a judicial order declaring that the state’s English-only law “does not apply to voting materials, including ballots, registration and voting notices, forms, instructions, and other materials and information relating to the electoral process.”

The state’s largest Latino advocacy organization filed suit in Polk County District Court on October 27, according to the Democracy Docket website founded by Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias. His law firm is representing LULAC in this and other cases related to voting rights.

LULAC previously petitioned Secretary of State Paul Pate to allow county auditors across Iowa to accept official Spanish-language translations of voter registration and absentee ballot request forms. However, Pate’s legal counsel informed the group in late September that the Secretary of State’s office “is still under an injunction” from 2008 “which prevents the dissemination of official voter registration forms for this state in languages other than English.”

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You cannot make this up

Senator Chuck Grassley struck an indignant tone a few hours after he and all of his fellow Republicans filibustered a bill that would have forced states to meet federal standards for absentee and early voting, and would have required more political groups to disclose their donors.

In his trademark Twitter style (lacking punctuation and some vowels), Grassley told his 660,000 followers that Democrats should drop their “massive partisan election takeover bill based on lies abt widespread voter suppression.” Anyone with proof of illegal discrimination in voting should take it to court, he said. “Don’t talk down our democratic process Best in world.”

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Consider Carrie Chapman Catt's whole life and legacy

Dianne Bystrom: As with any historical figure, Catt’s life should be evaluated in its total in making the decision about the naming of Catt Hall.

For the past 26 plus years, I have conducted research on women political leaders – especially their communication strategies and media coverage as compared to men. Although my published research in journal articles and books has focused on contemporary women political leaders, I’ve also studied the women’s suffrage movement as director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University from July 1996 to August 2018. In my retirement, I speak often on the women’s suffrage movement and continue my reading and research on this topic.

From these perspectives, I offer my comments about Catt and the current consideration of the naming of Carrie Chapman Catt Hall at Iowa State University.

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Response to “ISU’s culture of exclusion on Catt Hall continues”

Jane Cox is a professor emerita from Iowa State University and the author of many one-woman plays, including one on Carrie Chapman Catt, which she performed in twenty-six states, including at the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian.

As I read the commentary Bleeding Heartland published concerning Iowa State University and Catt Hall, I discovered that the writers believe the “university administration had failed to hold open discussions regarding Catt’s actions,” that “Naylor requested that the university hold open forms to discuss Catt’s history of political expedience, but ISU refused to seek student input,” that the university called itself “the best in the country while operating on stolen land,” that the university “neglected to change their recruitment and retention efforts towards BIPOC students in any meaningful way since the 1990s,” that “Iowa State clings to intellectual dishonesty,” that “Iowa State has always hid behind a veil of objectivity to dismiss the concerns of BIPOC,” and that now “the university has locked impacted students out of the renaming process once again.” 

Since I do not believe objectivity is a negative trait, here are a few facts for which there is documentation.

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