States Already Moving to Enact Discriminatory Voter ID Laws After VRA Ruling
Less than two hours after the Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act Tuesday, states began the process of implementing new laws. Greg Abbott, the attorney general for the state of Texas, said that “with today’s decision, the State’s voter ID law will take effect immediately." The Supreme Court said in its ruling that any discriminatory laws can always be challenged by the federal government in court. Now, as states act quickly to implement new voting laws, the federal government may soon be bringing cases of discriminatory voting legislation against them.
Here are six states already moving forward with new legislation:
- Texas: The Texas Department of Public Safety announced Thursday it would begin distributing photo IDs under a 2011 law originally blocked under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The state's voter ID law requires a passport (a $55 expense that not every American can afford), or a birth certificate (which not every American has).
- Mississippi: The state is moving to implement a voter ID law passed by the state in 2012, which will require photo identification at polling sites.
- South Carolina: State Attorney General Alan Wilson called the VRA's blockage of its voter ID law passed in 2011 an "extraordinary intrusion into state sovereignty." It now has the opportunity to move forward with its election reforms.
- Alabama: State officials in Alabama said Tuesday that "today's U.S. Supreme Court decision clears the way for Alabama's new photo voter ID law to be used in the 2014 elections without the need for federal preclearance." The law requires Alabamians to show photo identification in order to vote.
- Virginia: A voter ID law that was signed into law this March is likely to take effect in 2014, as planned, since it doesn't need preclearance now.
- Arkansas: Although local lawmakers argued that a new voter ID law passed in April could disenfranchise black voters, it is likely to go into effect.
These quick moves by states with a deep history of voter discrimination laws give extra weight to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent: “Early attempts to cope with this vile infection resembled battling the Hydra. Whenever one form of voting discrimination was identified and prohibited, others sprang up in its place. This Court repeatedly encountered the remarkable ‘variety and persistence’ of laws disenfranchising minority citizens."
It looks like the Hydra is rearing its ugly heads again.