The Supreme Court has granted Ohio’s request to throw out a ruling by lower courts stopping the state from implementing a law on early voting passed by the Republican state legislature. Meanwhile, cases on Republican-passed voting laws in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Texas are also working their way through the courts, and may all wind up in front of the Supreme Court in one way or another. So here’s a prediction: Republicans are going to win every single one of these cases. No matter how compelling the arguments of the opponents are, the simple fact is that there are five conservative justices who think that almost anything a state does to restrict people’s ability to vote is just fine with them. If you’re looking for the “tell” in laws like Ohio’s, you can find it on a Sunday — namely, the Sunday before the election (or sometimes every Sunday in the early voting period), which these laws almost always eliminate as a day when early voting can take place. What’s the significance of that Sunday? It’s the day when black churches conduct “Souls to the Polls” drives, organizing parishioners to head over to vote after services are over.
If you were a Republican looking to shape the voting laws to your partisan advantage, that’s a natural target, since a black person voting almost always means a vote for Democrats. Voter ID requirements are another obvious path to pursue, since the millions of Americans who don’t have driver’s licenses are more likely to be poor, urban, young, or minority — all groups that tilt Democratic. Or you can do what they did in Texas, writing the law so that a state-issued hunting license counts as a legitimate ID, but a state university-issued student ID doesn’t.
In the past few years, Republicans everywhere have viewed restrictions on voting as an essential component of seeking and holding power. Since 2010, when Republicans won sweeping victories not only in Congress but in state legislatures all over the country, 22 states have passed voting restrictions, usually through some combination of ID requirements, restrictions on early voting, and limitations on voter registration drives. There are only a few Republican-controlled states that haven’t tried to restrict voting.