(CNSNews.com) - The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Friday urged his Capitol Hill colleagues to extend and strengthen the Voting Rights Act in order to "level the playing field" because, U.S. Rep. Melvin Watt said, "white people ... will not consider voting for an African American candidate."
Watt, a Democrat from North Carolina, made the remarks at a Washington hearing held by the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act. The commission, a project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, is conducting nationwide hearings to gather data on voter discrimination for a report it will issue supporting the extension of the Voting Rights Act.
"Race has to be taken into account to factor out the people on the other side" who would refuse to vote for a minority candidate because of their race," Watt said. He added that he thinks much voting is based on race, not partisanship.
Watt told Cybercast News Service that his views are based on a 1980s blind poll of North Carolinians, which he said revealed that 30 percent of whites would not vote for a black candidate under any circumstances.
Watt told the commission that if another poll were conducted today, "there would be a substantial majority of white voters who would say that under no circumstances would they vote for an African American candidate." He later amended his comments, allowing that "some of them would."
More to Come