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Voting rule is costly, outdated

With a nod of his head — at least a figurative one — Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood snapped all of the Natchez aldermen candidates back into high election gear.

The announcement that Hood’s office had given the city the green light to proceed with its municipal elections was, in some ways, welcome news, but also a reminder of a sad reality.

Questions over whether or not the U.S. Justice Department will approve the city’s redistricting plans remain unanswered, but the AG provided enough clout for city leaders to proceed.

Of course, Hood’s opinion means little when the feds are involved. Regretfully, getting permission from the federal government is still a necessity for Mississippi and a number of other states.

We’ve long argued forcing states to operate under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is unfair.

The section requires any changes to voting districts to be pre-cleared by a federal panel to ensure changes do no discriminate against anyone.

The intent was good back in the 1960s, when Southern whites clearly discriminated against African-Americans and would stop at nothing to suppress their rights.

But times have changed, and so have the people of the South, yet the federally mandated scarlet letter remains. The requirement is also extremely costly to taxpayers.

One day we hope to see a time when the past is forgiven and decisions about how best to operate elections are left up to local citizens, not people in far-away offices who may have never stepped foot in Mississippi, but continue to think they know our hearts better than we do.

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