ACLU lawyer Kristen Clarke is right in comparing a new law that could allow for armed Secret Service agents to be present at polling places to “tactics that we saw during the Jim Crow era.” The administration's continued efforts to obstruct access to the ballot box are undemocratic and embarrassing.
AV President Greg Speed’s latest Huffington Post blog post celebrates the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. His piece, “Americans Should Push Back Against Voter Suppression Laws,” discusses the challenges ahead and importance of restoring the full VRA, and recognizes some of the successes we’ve seen in states to modernize elections.
The VRA in place today — or what’s left of it — lacks the full power to protect minority voters that it had for most of the past half-century. In Shelby County v. Holder, the Roberts Court effectively gutted Section 5 of the VRA, an essential component requiring pre-clearance of voting changes in states and jurisdictions with a record of discriminatory practices. Justice Roberts proclaimed in Shelby, “Our country has changed.” But the onslaught of recent voter suppression laws tells a very different story.
One of the central questions facing voting rights advocates post-Shelby is how to restore the VRA’s full scope of protections. Recent voting legislation in the states offers evidence of both the need to restore the VRA’s protections for minority voters, as well as progress toward building modern, more accessible state voting systems.
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