With just about 10 months until Election Day, ongoing courtroom battles over voting restriction have made it so that we still don’t know exactly when, and how, Americans in a number of states will be able to vote. Many of those battles originated with the Supreme Court gutting Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Section 5 had barred states and jurisdictions with a history of racially motivated voting discrimination from enacting changes to their election laws without approval from the federal government or without going to federal court. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court eliminated the most effective part of the landmark 1965 civil rights act. States rushed to pass onerous measures, including requiring government-issued photo identification to vote, eliminating same-day registration and cutting early voting.
Voting rights advocates have challenged those laws, arguing they disproportionately affect racial minorities, low-income people and other groups. But as the civil rights advocates’ lawsuits inch toward the Supreme Court, they venture into unknown territory.
This will be the first presidential election in decades without the full force of the VRA. The VRA’s remaining strength to block new restrictions on voting — most commonly through its Section 2, which prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in language minority groups — is still relatively untested.
The clock is ticking for judges to hear and decide these cases before the upcoming presidential election. In 2014, the Supreme Court used a concept called “the Purcell principle” — which dictates that courts should not change voting rules too close to an election — to allow restrictions in Texas, Ohio and North Carolina to go into effect just before Election Day.
Full Article: Voting Laws Are Still Up In The Air In These States.