The Supreme Court decision Tuesday striking down a key plank of the Voting Rights Act dramatically eases the way for states to push through stricter voting laws — and the flurry of action could reverberate into 2014 and beyond. Some states such as Texas moved within hours of the landmark ruling to implement so-called voter ID laws — requiring voters to show valid identification before they can cast ballots — that had been on hold. Others, such as swing state North Carolina, are expected to pass legislation this year that could complicate Democrats’ chances in 2014 midterm elections. Democrats hope to use the issue to galvanize minority voters by accusing the conservative-leaning Supreme Court and Republican statehouses of turning back the clock on hard-won voting rights. But the effect of the actual statutes, in terms of preventing people from voting who show up to the polls without proper ID, could be “devastating and immediate,” said Penda Hair, co-director of the voting rights group Advancement Project.
In North Carolina, the Republican governor and GOP-led Legislature have been working to pass a strict photo ID requirement, as well as restrictions on voter registration deadlines and on students voting on campus. Passage of those laws is likely to speed up now that the court has effectively removed preclearance, which critics said unfairly subjected southern states to excessive federal scrutiny that is no longer warranted.
The high court decision brings the law “into this century, not the last century,” North Carolina GOP state Sen. Tom Apodaca told The Charlotte Observer.
At the same time, North Carolina’s looming voter ID law could spell trouble for incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, a top target of Republicans whose fate may hinge on high turnout among minority voters.