Voting rights watch: 6 states that just couldn’t wait

Well, that didn’t take long. Within days of the Supreme Court’s decision to kill the longstanding, pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, six states sped toward enacting new voting restrictions. And just to be clear, the six states are six of the nine that, until the Supreme Court Decision in Shelby County v Holder, had been covered by the now-dead Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, because of their unfair voting practices. They just couldn’t wait to find new ways to make voting more difficult and more complicated—with the brunt of the burden falling on minorities and economically disadvantaged voters. And this is, undoubtedly, just the beginning of a sad, backward slide toward the bad old days of Jim Crow.

Here’s the roundup from Think Progress:

Texas: The Lone Star State saw its strict voter ID law and redistricting plan blocked by the DOJ and federal courts last year. Just two hours after [the Supreme Court’s] decision came down, the state’s attorney general issued a statement suggesting both laws may go into effect immediately.  One day later, Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed slightly modified congressional maps into law, apparently deciding not to veto them and reinstate the more blatantly discriminatory maps blocked by the court. These new maps will not be screened by the DOJ. And the next morning, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated two federal court decisions that had relied upon the VRA in blocking the voter ID law and redistricting plan.

Mississippi: The state legislature approved a voter ID scheme in 2012, but it has not received DOJ clearance. Despite the restrictions, Mississippi’s secretary of state said Tuesday they would proceed with implementing the voter ID law and that “We’re not the same old Mississippi that our fathers’ fathers were.

Alabama: In 2011, the state passed a law requiring photo ID to vote, but never cleared it with the DOJ. Both the attorney general and the secretary of state said Tuesday they believed their plans could now be implemented in time for the 2014 elections.

Arkansas: In April, the Arkansas legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto to pass their voter ID legislation. With preclearance out of the way, the state law can now be implemented without DOJ review.

South Carolina: The Palmetto State passed a similar voter ID law in 2012, but DOJ at least succeeded in delaying its implementation. South Carolina’s attorney general issued a statement following the decision, lauding the Court for allowing the preclearance states to “to implement reasonable election reforms, such as voter ID laws similar to South Carolina’s.”

Virginia: Unlike several of the other states, Virginia’s voter ID plan was not scheduled to be implemented until July 2014 anyway. But unless Congress replaces the preclearance formula before then, Virginia will also likely be able to move forward with its plan.

 

Gloria Shur Bilchik Gloria Shur Bilchik (480 Posts)

Gloria Shur Bilchik is a freelance writer and community volunteer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the editor of Occasional Planet. She views the preservation of progressive values as vital to making the US a humane, livable place for her children and grandchildren.