Lester Salamon, reporting on the last state-wide elections in
Mississippi in 1971, said, "In the months preceeding the election,
four racial slayings occurred in the Delta alone . . . Though not
directly related to the elections, these slayings contributed to
a climate of apprehension. The threat of economic pressures had
the same effect. The fact that the election took place in the
middle of the cotton-picking season only intensified the problem;
for many blacks believe they would jeopardize their meager jobs
if they voted." These feelings persist and they can be eliminated
only through direct federal initiative to protect these rights.

Renewal of the Voting Rights Act, then, is necessary in part
because many states and local jurisdictions of the South continue
to be up to their old tricks of attempted circumvention of the
law. The tactics have changed but the strategy remains. But the
Voting Rights Act with Section Five has made it vastly more
difficult for successful circumvention by shifting the burden of
proof of discrimination away from individuals to the jurisdictions
wishing to change their election laws. And shifting the burden of
proof has in fact lessened circumvention of the law. The Justice
Department has objected to over 200 electoral changes, including
35 in the first eight months of 1974. This is enough evidence in
itself to justify renewal of the legislation.


Lester Salamon, "Mississippi Post-Mortem; The 1971 Elections,"
New South (Winter, 1972)

Notes and Questions

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BettyJoyce Nash

Original text underlines title: New South (in footnote)