Desiline Victor — the 102-year-old whose determination to vote in the most recent presidential election despite hourslong lines at her Miami polling place earned her an invitation to the State of the Union address — hasn’t retired from the national stage just yet.
This week, the Huffington Post reports, she penned a letter to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, letting him know that she was “shocked” about his labeling the Voting Rights Act a “racial entitlement” during the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on a key provision of the law last month.
“I would like to tell you about the struggles I faced in the last election,” Victor writes. And she’s quick to point out that the delays she faced had everything to do with the very types of cuts to early voting that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is designed to block when they disadvantage minority voters. Here’s an excerpt:
When I heard what you said about the Voting Rights Act being a “racial entitlement,” I was shocked. I thought you must not know what’s happening in this country. After learning more this year from the civil rights group, Advancement Project, I know that just as there were for me, there are barriers to voting for many people – especially people who are black or brown. I also know that the Voting Rights Act is a way to protect the votes of communities that still face these problems. I would like to tell you about the struggles I faced in the last election.
During the early voting period in Florida last October, I went to my polling place early in the morning. The line was already very long, and wait times were as high as six hours. I stood for three hours before I started to get shaky on my feet, but no one could assist me unless I made it to the front of the line. In addition, there were no poll workers available who could help me in my native Kreyòl language, despite North Miami’s large Haitian community. I was told to come back later. I left. But I was determined to vote, so I tried again. On my second visit that night, I was happy when I finally cast my ballot. But I was also upset. In this great nation why should anybody have to stand in line for hours, and make two trips, to vote?
Not everybody persevered as I did. I learned later that hundreds of thousands of voters in Florida gave up and went home without voting, and that Black and Latino voters were more likely to face those shamefully long lines and wait times. One reason was a new law that cut the early voting period. Around the country, other new laws were passed that made voting harder in 2012 — but Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act blocked many of them before the election. Section 5 also helps voters in other ways. In the five counties in Florida that are covered, voting help in Spanish and Kreyòl is required because of their large Latino and Haitian populations.
Read more at the Huffington Post.