With the Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday on the Voting Rights Act, Mississippi and Texas announced they’re ready to move forward with their controversial voter identification laws. Eleven states in the past two years have approved laws that would require voters to show identification at voting booths. But Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required some of those states with a history of voter discrimination to get “precleared” by the federal government before making any changes to voting laws. A separate part of the law known as Section 4 relies on a federal formula to determine which states would be covered under that “preclearance” regime. Requests by Texas and Mississippi for clearance in their voter ID laws were pending with the federal government when the high court struck down the constitutionality of the act’s Section 4 on Tuesday, which also appears to have nullified Section 5.
Delbert Hosemann, Mississippi’s secretary of state, interpreted the court’s decision to mean his state was on “equal footing” with other states and could move forward with its voter ID law without getting permission from the government.
“The Court’s decision removes requirements for Mississippi to travel through the expensive and time consuming federal application process for any change to state, county, or municipal voting law,” he said in a statement. “This chapter is closed.”
Hosemann said Mississippi would begin implementing its voter ID law starting Tuesday.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a similar statement, declaring voting laws have been applied “unequally” to some states and Tuesday’s ruling negates that inequality.
“Today’s ruling ensures that Texas is no longer one of just a few states that must seek approval from the federal government before its election laws can take effect,” he said. “With today’s decision, the State’s voter ID law will take effect immediately.”