If judging only by the 99 new laws proposed in 2017 to restrict registration and voting access, one might assume that voter fraud is a widespread issue. Yet according to a study in May by the Brennan Center for Justice, of the 23.5 million votes cast in the 2016 general election, only an estimated 30 incidents across 42 jurisdictions were referred to by election officials as suspected noncitizen voting. In a one-year period, America has had more proposed laws prohibiting voting than cases of actual voter fraud incidents. So what makes a statistically nonexistent issue warrant the current level of scrutiny or legislative action? If the proposed cures appear worse than the problem they’re designed to solve, that’s because the problem isn’t voter fraud, but the growing number of women, people of color, young, and low-income voters filling out ballots.
Over half a century ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law in order to guarantee the elimination of racial discrimination in voting. It resulted in a sharp increase in African American voter registration and has beenconsidered the most effective piece of civil rights legislation in history.
That is, until it was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013 in Shelby County v. Holder. This decision removed the preclearance clause. Effectively, this meant jurisdictions with histories of passing discriminatory voting laws were no longer subject to federal oversight when passing voting laws that could impact minority voters.
Let me restate that: Regions with a history of racial discrimination no longer have federal oversight of their voting process.