A plan to consolidate Roanoke’s voting precincts is facing unwarranted allegations of racism. The plan is about making it easier to vote.
Much has changed since 1967, when Roanoke City Council drew lines separating the city’s neighborhoods into 32 voting districts under the watchful eye of the U.S. Department of Justice and the nascent Voting Rights Act.
Given the reaction last week to a well-designed plan to realign the precincts, Roanoke seems stuck in an era of racism, when powerful white politicians schemed to suppress black voters’ voices.
Solid evidence to the contrary can be found right on council’s dais — two of the seven members elected by all city voters happen to be black. Yet the sad, unfounded allegations that confronted Carl Tinsley of the Roanoke Electoral Board, himself a black man, during last week’s public hearing on the precinct alignment plan came not just from the president of the Roanoke chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, but most forcefully from Councilman Sherman Lea.
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