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Voter Suppression Bills Surge After Supreme Court Guts VRA

Voter Suppression Bills Surge After Supreme Court Guts VRA

In case any of you missed it, last week, the Supreme Court decided that, since we have a black president, voter discrimination does not exist.

In the majority opinion of their decision in the Shelby County v Holder case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional, Justice Roberts stated that the conditions in the covered states that precipitated the need for the VRA have changed dramatically. He pointed out that the racial gap in voter registration and voter turnout specifically between black and white voters had reached parity. He also noted that “blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.”

Section 5 of the VRA requires preclearance of any changes in voting laws or conditions by the DOJ in the covered jurisdictions listed in Section 4 prior to implementation. By ruling Section 4 unconstitutional, Section 5 is effectively moot.

The six states covered under the original act were Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia. In subsequent reauthorizations, additional jurisdictions were added, including Alaska, Arizona and Texas; certain counties in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota; and local jurisdictions in Michigan.

Within hours of the decision, four of the covered states announced plans to implement or reintroduce voting laws that had been, or would have been, blocked due to preclearance rulings.

It took exactly forty-eight hours for the first of the laws to take effect.

Texas

Two days after their decision, the Supreme Court vacated the judgments issued by lower courts which rejected Texas’ new voter ID law and redistricting plans, in light of their decision in the Shelby case. The voter ID law had been signed into law in August 2011 by Governor Rick Perry. It its ruling, the federal court stated that “the law will almost certainly have retrogressive effect: it imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to live in poverty.”  The state’s own data showed that Hispanics were anywhere from 46.5 percent to 120 percent less likely to have the required government-issued photo ID.

Texas implemented the law effective immediately.

Virginia

In March 2013, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell signed new voter ID requirements into law. It requires all registered voters to produce a photo ID in order to vote. The law is innocuous enough, and even provides for a free photo ID if a voter is unable to obtain one. This ignores the costs of the required documentation to get the free photo ID, however.

Because Virginia is — or was — a preclearance state, implementation of the law was delayed until July 2014 as it awaited approval from the DOJ. Virginia officials are now trying to determine if they will implement the law prior to the original July 2014 date.

North Carolina

North Carolina is expected to produce a voter omnibus bill in the Senate as early as next week. The expected provisions are included in a previous bill passed by the House in April. The voter ID provision makes it harder for students to vote by not allowing student IDs as identification and taxes parents if students choose to register and vote where their school is located, instead of at their parents’ address. They are also expected to end early voting, Sunday voting and same day voter registration.

It should be noted that in the last election, blacks were 22% of voters, and of the voters without a state-issued ID, blacks were 34%. They made up almost one-third of in-person early voters and 34% of same day registration voters. Sunday voting is often the day churches do their ‘voters to the polls,’ in which they provide transportation to polling locations.

The provisions, republicans say, are all about reducing (non-existent) voter fraud and adding integrity to the voting process.

Mississippi

Like Virginia, Mississippi had already passed a voter approved voter ID law, which requires a government-issued photo ID in order to vote, but was awaiting preclearance approval from DOJ. They are making arrangements for the law to take effect as soon as possible.

At the moment, it appears the Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is going beyond just providing a free ID and is addressing the costs involved providing documentation to get the ID. He is installing cameras in circuit clerks’ offices for free photos, free transportation to the offices, and has established agreements with the vital records divisions of forty-five states to provide free electronic verification of birth certificate information. He hopes to get an agreement with all fifty states.

There are still issues of redistricting and voter ID laws that were blocked in other states. Time will tell if those states will move forward with those in light of the SCOTUS ruling.

We’ll keep you posted.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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110 comments

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5:54PM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Noted!

4:16AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

First the SCOTUS said that they could deny minorities the right to vote, then they could deny women the right to vote, and then they could deny democrats the right to vote, and then they could deny everyone the right to vote. Then there was only the Emperor who could vote.

2:51PM PDT on Jul 7, 2013

Thanks

8:42AM PDT on Jul 7, 2013

To Justice Roberts and the SCOTUS in general:
We have always legally had voter parity yet the SCOTUS has decided on many cases which reflect the opposite. Why, if there is and has been? Two faced Democracy maybe? Why are Realtors allowed to harbor private lists in order to segregate or "protect" neighborhoods from "the wrong kind" of buyers? Why are there different levels of healthcare for people of this country and why do we treat people differently on basic issues by status or income level? Maybe because it "always" has been done or been "that way". That way is wrong Justice Roberts and SCOTUS and you know it. You don't write the laws but you do judge the judicial process, but evidently not by the law that gives us the parity you think we all possess. You know it and WE know it, and what you do control you suck at. There is no parity among the races or income levels. We all have the same rights to make money, but we don't have the rights to all be equal. The SCOTUS proves this in their judicial judgements and statements.

9:33AM PDT on Jul 6, 2013

Republicans should not worry that a law limiting or not access to some minorities, in order to take advantage, but rather should make a restructuring, which will provide this information, which is what people want, when and how , the time when most whites were going on, on that ground must be a party that fits the circumstances of the time.
http://puntosdeapoyo.com/servicios

7:56AM PDT on Jul 6, 2013

I agree....I've always thought there should be a 10-15 year limit on the Supreme Court Justices.

6:13AM PDT on Jul 6, 2013

SCOTUS should have term limits!

2:06AM PDT on Jul 6, 2013

Voter IDs, if handled the way Mississippi seems to be handling it, where they'll get the out of state birth certificate for you, etc, would actually be a great idea, because after a few years, everyone would have one, and having been put through a bit of bother to get one, more people would actually bother to vote. Look what happened in 2012 when they tried to suppress minority and student votes. It backfired, and turnout was big.

The average Republican in the street sincerely believes that there is massive voter fraud, despite all the evidence to the contrary. They don't know the GW Bush spent 30 million looking for voter fraud before admitting that it wasn't going on, and so whenever a Democrat wins an election, they feel entitled to call the winner illegitimate. This hurts us all. They get their information from sources that shield them from the demographic realities that are changing this country, and instead wind them up about illegals. If we take away their basis for distrusting elections they lose, it'll be harder to say that elections don't have consequences.

12:21AM PDT on Jul 6, 2013

Thanks.

11:28PM PDT on Jul 5, 2013

So, let's see, years ago we tied up the vicious dog because it kept biting people. Now, because it hasn't bitten anyone in all those years the Supreme Court let it go. And its biting people again?!! What are the odds of that?

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