Last night’s election was the first major contest to take place since the Supreme Court’s decision overturned key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And last night’s election was a prime example of just exactly why the act was necessary to begin with.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday evening, Wade Henderson of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, said that we were “witnessing the most unfair, confusing and discriminatory election landscape in almost 50 years.”
States across the country passed a barrage of measures that they claimed were to prevent voter fraud, a problem that has been proven to not actually be a legitimate problem, but actually acted as a means by which to suppress voters who tend to not vote Republican.
As Henderson pointed out, SCOTUS “invited Congress to updated the Voting Rights Act,” and a bipartisan bill was even introduced in January. But, of course, Congress stalled as the “House Republican leadership [refused] to hold even a single hearing.”
Since no action was taken, Texas passed a set of measures so strict that not one, but two, federal courts found that the law served no other purpose than to discriminate against minority voters. Still, the Supreme Court allowed Texas’ elections to take place under the unconstitutional law. Now, voters can use their concealed carry permit to vote but not their state college ID.
More than 40,000 voter registration forms collected by the Georgia chapter of the NAACP and the New Georgia Project went unprocessed. In North Carolina and Ohio, early voting was cut and same day registration was eliminated– completely in North Carolina and during early voting in Ohio. How many voters were basically disenfranchised because of these ridiculous changes?
“The common theme in all of these measures is that they take aim at the voting procedures that are most used by those that have struggled the most in our history for the right to vote,” said Henderson, “and the message that these politicians are sending with these laws are clear: we don’t want you to have a voice in this democracy.”