A new report from the House Rules Committee has found that discrimination against voters has increased since the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision.
The Supreme Court contended in the Shelby v. Holder decision that key provisions of the Voting Rights Act were no longer necessary.
However, the House Rules Committee found that Shelby opened the door to a new wave of voter suppression:
The evidence demonstrates that the nation has not changed as dramatically as the Court’s majority may have thought. In the eight years since Shelby County was decided, states have taken significant steps toward suppressing the vote. Across the country, states have purged millions of voters from the voting rolls; enacted a rash of strict voter ID laws; attempted to implement documentary proof of citizenship laws; failed to provide necessary language access and assistance to limited-English proficiency voters; closed, consolidated, or relocated hundreds if not thousands of polling locations, causing voters to wait in long, burdensome lines to vote; attempted to cut back on opportunities to vote outside of Election Day; and employed changes to methods of elections, jurisdictional boundaries, and redistricting as methods to dilute and disenfranchise minority voters.
Litigation under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution has proven to be a powerful but inadequate tool to combat the wave of voter suppression tactics unleashed in the years since Shelby.
Voter Turnout Increased In 2018 and 2020 Despite Voter Suppression Laws
The 2018 and 2020 elections saw record voter turnout. While this is indeed an outcome to be celebrated, it is not, as some argue, an indication that voter suppression and discrimination no longer exists. The evidence gathered by the Subcommittee demonstrates that voters turned out in record numbers despite suppressive voting laws and a once-in-a-century pandemic.
And yet, the reaction of Republican-led legislatures around the country to historic voter turnout has been to unleash a new wave of restrictive voting laws in the months following the 2020 election. States with a history of discriminatory voting practices and racially polarized voting continue to enact voting laws without analyzing whether these provisions discriminate against minority voters.
The Time To Pass Voter Protection Laws Is Now
The Committee wrote that the time to act is now.
We are now at an inflection point in protecting our democracy. The time has come for Congress to utilize its constitutional authority to protect the fundamental right to vote for all Americans. As Mr. Henderson stated before the Subcommittee, “[f]or democracy to work for all of us, it must include all of us.” It is unacceptable that in 2021, 56 years after the VRA’s passage,” Ms. Nelson stated, that “the right to vote remains so very under-protected. . . .This model is not sustainable nor is it acceptable.”
There is no reason for Congress not to act. Since 2013, when the Supreme Court lied about a decline in discrimination against voters, the attack against democracy by Republicans has been unrelenting.
Trump’s big lie brought it to the forefront, but Democrats can longer sit back and allow Republicans to chip away at democracy.
Democrats must act to protect the right to vote, or our democracy will perish.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association
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