More background. The Washington Post in July on how voting has changed since Shelby County v. Holder.
What did Shelby County v Holder do?
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional. Section 4 lays out the formulas for how the Justice Department enforces Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 requires that the states identified with a history of discrimination obtain approval from the federal government before they can make changes to their election law. Section 4 formulas as of 2013 mandatedthat “Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia in their entirety; and parts of California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota” ask for preclearance for electoral law changes. After Shelby County v. Holder, these states are free to make changes to election law or district maps without approval from the Justice Department.
Because Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia are all completely ok on the whole racially-targeted obstacles to voting thing now.
Has Congress made any moves on amending the Voting Rights Act?
If Congress wants to keep it, they need to update the framework that decides which states require the Justice Department to sign off on election law changes. A year later, Congress hasn’t decided whether they want to keep it yet. The proposed amendment to the Voting Rights Act is stuck in legislative purgatory.
Of course it is. The Republicans have a stranglehold on Congress, and the Republicans don’t consider it in their interest to make it less arduous for black and Hispanic voters to get all the way to the booth with the ballot in it.
There have been some state changes helpful to voters, and some not so much.
There have been changes that shift early voting and voter registration times, and new voter-ID requirements. The opponents of these laws say that their only effect will be limiting the right to vote — mostly among low-income and minority voters who may not own government identification or have enough flexibility with their employment to vote on Election Day.
So it’s a lightly-disguised property qualification. What could possibly be wrong with that?!