voter id laws
Are voting restrictions about voter fraud, or are they just a ruse to suppress likely Democratic voters?
Since 2010, conservatives have instituted voting restrictions in 21 states, the most well-known of which are laws that require photo IDs at the polls.
A judge upheld North Carolina’s controversial election laws on April 25, reports The New York Times.
The ruling comes months before a presidential election in a state that narrowly went to Barack Obama in 2008 and to Mitt Romney in 2012.
North Carolina's voter ID law, which requires would-be voters to display an acceptable form of government-issued voter ID in order to cast a ballot, went into effect for the first time in last night's primary. Early voting behaviors offered a first look at some of the problems that come with these voting restrictions, reports ThinkProgress. Namely, how young people are being blocked from voting.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act that was enacted in 1965 to root out racial discrimination in voting. The specific section of the Act that was stricken — Section 4 — set forth a formula for determining which jurisdictions need federal clearance before making even minor changes to voting procedures. The impact of striking Section 4 is that the most important part of the Act, Section 5, is now rendered useless. Section 5 provides that states, cities, and counties with a history of racial discrimination in voting must “pre-clear” changes to voting procedures with the Department of Justice or a special court in Washington, D.C. Without the formula in Section 4 to determine which states, cities, and counties the preclearance should apply to, the preemptive protection provided by Section 5 no longer exists, and any future challenges to changes in voting procedure must happen after such changes are already in effect.
The majority of the Court felt that racial minorities do not continue to face discriminatory voting practices, and that the preclearance requirement was based on 40-year-old facts that had no logical bearing on present day. Chief Justice Roberts, Jr., wrote:
“Our country has changed. While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”
The practical application of Tuesday's decision is that states will be able to enact potentially discriminatory laws that previously had been blocked. This was made immediately apparent in Texas, which announced after the ruling that voter identification laws would go into effect immediately.