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Black democrats look to Cochran on voting rights

By BILL BARROW and EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS

After overwhelming support for Cochran from black democrats in Miss., the NAACP president looks for a legislative tradeoff.

Cochran voting rights

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - After black voters helped Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran survive an intense Republican primary runoff against an insurgent conservative challenger, some civil rights leaders in the South want him to repay the favor.

Their request? Cochran should lead the charge in the Senate to renew a key section of the Voting Rights Act struck down last year by the Supreme Court's conservative majority.

"But for the Voting Rights Act, those African-Americans who turned out to the polls ... to support his re-election would not have had the opportunity to do so," said Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson.

Cochran angered some conservatives with his unabashed appeal to Democrats in the June 24 runoff election against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who eked out a win with the support of tea party groups in the state's primary but didn't win the outright majority required to avoid a runoff against the six-term incumbent.

Black Mississippians, who AP exit polls have indicated overwhelmingly vote Democratic, have voted for Cochran in general elections in the past, but have never before been such a key voting bloc in a contested GOP contest. He must now ponder how to respond to that unusual primary coalition while mending fissures inside the state GOP, which is mostly supported by voters who are white.

That task is complicated by requests such as those made by Johnson, as well as a potential legal challenge from McDaniel. He and his supporters argue - so far without presenting any definitive evidence - that Cochran won because "liberal Democrats" voted in the June 3 Democratic primary and then in the Republican runoff three weeks later, violating the state's ban on what's called crossover voting. McDaniel said Friday on CNN that his campaign found at least 5,000 irregularities in voting, and he will mount a legal challenge "any day now."

It's just one more twist in an election that affirms politics in Mississippi and surrounding Southern states is sometimes still all about race, even a half century after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

"One has to be careful what we ask the senator to do," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia's envoy to Congress who worked in Mississippi during the civil rights movement as part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

"Everyone expects to get votes from both sides, and he's been under attack from that," she said. "I wouldn't expect him to immediately stand up and make this his fight. His first task is to get himself back to the Senate."

Cochran was among the Republicans who generally celebrated the Supreme Court's decision a year ago to remove from the Voting Rights Act a requirement that governments in 15 states with a history of discrimination seek and win federal approval before making changes to their election laws and procedures - from polling hours to precinct borders.

"The court's finding reflects well on the progress states like Mississippi have made," Cochran said after the court ruled, adding "our state can ... ensure that our democratic processes are open and fair for all without being subject to excessive scrutiny."

Many voting rights advocates, particularly the NAACP and other minority advocacy groups, maintain that federal oversight is still needed. An effort is underway to address the court's concerns that the law was based on old data by restoring the "preclearance" requirement to four states with a recent history of voting discrimination - Georgia, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.

That legislation is caught in the same partisan gridlock that has stalled action on most issues in the current Congress, and Holmes said it's accepted on Capitol Hill there will be no votes before November's midterm election.

Cochran declined a request for comment about his position on that effort and hasn't said anything publicly about the Voting Rights Act since his come-from-behind win in a runoff election that featured a surge in turnout compared to the primary, particularly in counties where a majority of voters are black.

Francys Johnson, who leads the NAACP in Georgia, said he believes Cochran and his Republican colleagues in the Senate understand that minorities - and not just black voters - still need protections to ensure they can vote. But, he said, "they've got one eye on the tea party and one eye on the general population."

"Republicans have been at the heart of every major movement in civil rights in this country, whether it's in first Reconstruction after the Civil War or what I call the second Reconstruction after Jim Crow," he said. "If they don't step up, they risk losing that identity as a party of liberty."

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radarmannoshoes July 05 2014 at 8:38 AM

Let me summarize this story for you. After breaking the law, voting in the Democrat primary and then the Republican primary in order to cancel the votes of their fellow Americans, blacks want payback. They want laws restored making it easier for them to create voter fraud.

Now they will argue that voter fraud doesn’t exist, that voter ID are not needed. Yet they just showed you it does by asking to get paid for doing it.

Flag Reply +69 rate up
11 replies
greatbirdusa July 05 2014 at 7:58 AM

Why should the color of your skin dictate receiving special voting rights?
The 'Voting Rights Act'
is an act of equal rights under the law.
Why should that be changed to benefit someone based on the color of that person's skin..?

Flag Reply +68 rate up
20 replies
Mary Ann July 05 2014 at 7:19 AM

It is the Blacks who keep the (its about race thing going) Always have to use the race card

Flag Reply +60 rate up
10 replies
Bill July 05 2014 at 9:21 AM

Why do blacks need "special" voting rights? Aren't the ones the rest of us have good enough?

Flag Reply +60 rate up
8 replies
Hello Beautiful July 05 2014 at 9:42 AM

If you want equality, then STOP segregating yourselves (i.e. NAACP, BET, AABE, NABHOOD, NBCC, NCNW, UNCF, NMA, NBNA, NABA) and the list goes on and on. Our country has been taken racially hostage.

Flag Reply +56 rate up
6 replies
let.freedom.ring July 05 2014 at 9:38 AM

Change what the Supreme Court decided because
Blacks what "special extra rights"..?
Why on earth
Should the color of your skin give a person special rights in America?
I think not only should
Every Voter -
Regardless of skin color have to follow the exact same voting rules But there should be a
National Voter I.D. Law.
In states that have a voter I.D. law,
Blacks began voting
in much higher numbers!
Should the NAACP want that?

Flag Reply +52 rate up
6 replies
keep.hope.alive July 05 2014 at 9:12 AM

Change the Voting Rights Act.. ?
WHY DO THAT..?
One simple fact --
Information from the
FBI National Unified Crime Report
*12% of America are black
* 77% of all gun crimes in
America are committed by blacks.
Why is that happening and what can be done about it?
GIVE BLACKS
SPECIAL VOTING RIGHTS..?
Will that fix crime in America?

Flag Reply +47 rate up
4 replies
LA is Best July 05 2014 at 9:07 AM

" at least 5,000 irregularities in voting"....The norm with Democrat voters!!

Flag Reply +46 rate up
5 replies
airamrka July 05 2014 at 9:52 AM

Why is everyone commenting on crime in the negro population?

If some, as they have said they did, paid people to vote for Cochran, that is the real crime. It is a crime and an afront to every American - - - regardless of race or political party.

Flag Reply +44 rate up
4 replies
raptureus210 July 05 2014 at 7:40 AM

This guy would make a perfect President. He has all the traits. dishonor, deceit, lying, plays the race card, and will do what it takes to get a vote. He would be perfect!

Flag Reply +39 rate up
9 replies
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