The Supreme Court dealt a blow to the Voting Rights Act last week, only two weeks after ruling that an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote is unconstitutional. The Court’s decision last Tuesday and the idea underpinning it – that voter suppression of ethnic minority and poor voters is no longer an issue that warrants the same federal protections as it once did – sits at odds with their ruling on the Arizona voter ID law, which was a clear acknowledgment that state laws can, at times, be discriminatory. “Arizona is the poster child of the need for federal oversight,” said Democratic Senator Steve Gallardo. In a 5 to 4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court did away with Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) that required Arizona and other states to get pre-approval from the federal government before implementing changes to their state voter laws.
The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to protect the civil rights of minorities to vote, and was renewed as recently as 2006, when Congress extended the law for another 25 years.
Without the review formula required under Section 4, new laws like HB 2305 would be able to go into effect immediately, said Raquel Teran, state director for Mi Familia Vota, a national organization focused on Latino participation in the election process.
HB 2305 could have a detrimental effect on the work of organizations like hers in helping voters deliver early ballots to the polls, said Teran.