Less than a week after the Supreme Court watered down the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a handful of states seemed poised to roll back the protections afforded to minorities by the 48-year-old law. Two hours after the decision, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that a 2011 voter-ID law that federal courts found disproportionately burdened poor and minority voters would go into effect “immediately.” New redistricting maps, Abbott says, could swiftly follow. Since the high court’s ruling on June 25, four of the other 15 states covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia — are in position to move forward on tightening voting laws. In Alabama and Mississippi, voters will have to present a photo-identification card at the 2014 primary polls under laws that are now being implemented, but were previously being held until cleared by Washington officials. Both states plan to issue photo IDs to voters who don’t have them.
Meanwhile, a stricter voter-ID bill passed by Virginia state legislature in March will go into effect in July 2014. That measure made driver’s licenses, voter-ID cards, student IDs and gun permits the only acceptable forms of voting identification.
And in North Carolina, lawmakers plan to overhaul existing voting laws as early as next week that will make photo identification a voting requirement, as well as cancel both Sunday and early voting.
But the speediest action seems certain to come in Texas.