As 2013’s Supreme Court decision concerning Shelby County took down a major section of Voting Rights Act provision, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. announced that:
“history did not end in 1965”.
However, neither did concerted efforts to suppress vote rights for certain groups. In 2014, the first election that took place after the Shelby decision, the Government Accountability Office released reports underlining that state voter ID imposed laws, such as those enforced in Texas or North Carolina impeded the exercising of voting rights of certain groups of citizens, particularly black voters, newly registered voters and young voters.
As the Shelby decision took down a piece of the Voting Rights Act, and the 2014 election was already a preview of dire voting prospects, the 2016 election is already building up to be the election year when new voting restrictions are in place across 15 states, accounting to 162 electoral votes.
Since 1965 and up to 2013, both federal courts and the Justice Department did away with over 3,000 discriminatory voting regulations. The Shelby decision in 2013 leveled the ground, invalidating these efforts.
As such, the path was cleared for states like Texas to enforce newly designed restrictions, albeit the provision that requires states to submit regulations for approval with the federal government.
On Tuesday, the battle took a new turn. A federal appeals court decided that indeed, the Texas voter ID law is discriminatory towards minorities. The three-judge panel decided that the Texas law, enforced in 2011, is in the wrong towards the Voting Rights Act.
It did not agree however, that it would be an illegal poll tax, nor that it was passed with the expressed intent of discriminating against voters from minority groups.
Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas, commented:
“I’m particularly pleased the panel saw through and rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that our law constituted a poll tax. The intent of this law is to protect the voting process in Texas, and we will continue to defend this important safeguard for all Texas voters”.
As such, the small victory could be turned as the state of Texas could appeal the ruling with the Supreme Court or to the 5th Circuit appeal court.
Texas is not the only state that enforced restrictive voter ID laws. Wisconsin, as well as North Carolina are on the same side of the barricade.
Photo Credits: brennancenter.org
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