In the year since the Supreme Court ended close federal oversight of elections in Alabama and some other states, discrimination against minority voters has crept back into place, voting rights advocates say. “The result of that decision is that minority voters have been left without critically needed voting protections for an entire year,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony Wednesday that, because the Justice Department is no longer looking over their shoulder, several local and state governments around the country have restricted some people’s access to the ballot box.
Last year’s Supreme Court case said the formula used to determine which states needed extra supervision in conducting elections was outdated and no longer constitutional. That decision, in a case filed by Shelby County, Ala., effectively nullified the Voting Rights Act’s “pre-clearance” provision, which had required that all or parts of 14 states get advance permission from the Justice Department before making any changes in voting procedures.
“It is clear that political entities previously covered… have begun to use the Shelby County decision as license to enact discriminatory measures,” said Ifill, who will testify at Wednesday’s Senate hearing.
Senators are debating a proposal from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., that would update the Voting Rights Act’s anti-discrimination formula and restore pre-clearance in states with the most recent and persistent problems.
Full Article: Senate debates voting rights proposal.