During an event honoring African-American History Month Tuesday evening, Vice President Joe Biden pressed Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act and said that voter ID laws offered in some southern states are evidence of lingering racism. He specifically pointed to voting legislation in North Carolina, Alabama and Texas as examples of what’s going wrong on the state level. “These guys never go away. Hatred never, never goes away,” Biden said of the laws in Alabama, North Carolina and Texas, the latter two of which are facing lawsuits by the Justice Department to block their laws that would require showing identification before voting. “The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”
Opponents of voter ID laws say they suppress turnout among typically Democratic voting groups like minorities and students, while proponents insist they are needed to prevent voter fraud (though there is little evidence of such problems).
Biden, who described his 1982 vote in favor of renewing the Voting Rights Act as one of the most important of his senatorial career, has been a vocal advocate for Congress to restore the weight behind the 1965 legislation. It was gutted by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling, Shelby County v. Holder, which determined the standards used to judge whether states with a history of discrimination must seek preclearance from the federal government before changing their voting laws and practices were outdated.