Reporting on a voting rights dispute in Shelby, North Carolina, The New York Times says:
The bitter disagreement in this city of 20,000 is part of a broader voting rights battle charged by race and partisan politics that is happening in a number of communities, many of them Southern, where changes to election laws no longer require advance approval from the federal government after a year-old Supreme Court ruling voided a key section of the Voting Rights Act.
Voting rights advocates fear that these local changes — combined with a number of new state laws restricting ballot access and requiring voters to show picture IDs — amount to a concerted effort to reduce voting by minority groups. Conservatives say that the laws ensure against voter fraud, and in some cases are more cost-efficient.
The Associated Press reports:
An Arkansas judge struck down the state’s new voter ID law on Thursday, saying it violates the state constitution by adding a requirement that voters must meet before casting a ballot.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox voided the measure in a lawsuit over the way absentee ballots are handled under the law. A separate lawsuit had been filed last week directly challenging the law, which requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot.
The law “is declared void and unenforceable,” Fox wrote in the ruling.
The Republican-led Legislature approved the law last year, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe with a simple majority vote in the House and Senate.
The Washington Post writes in an editorial:
"VIRGINIA IS MOVING quickly, though not quickly enough, to join the vast majority of states that quickly restore the voting rights of most felons after they have finished their sentences. On Friday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, building on his predecessor’s policy, sharply expanded the numbers of nonviolent former convicts who will be re-enfranchised when they have paid their debt to society. He also shortened the wait for former convicts who committed violent crimes to three years from five."
Suz Korbel reports on voter suppression in Texas:
The voter suppression laws are popping up everywhere, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), the aspiring Governor, wasted no time jumping on the bandwagon once the Supremes gutted the Voting Rights Act. There are many good groups aware of the problems and trying to stop the Voter ID laws, but the bandwagon has become a bullet train and I’m not sure even throwing our bodies on the tracks will be enough to stop it.
So, the new Voter ID laws not only signal to those without photo ID that they should just not bother to vote, but once there, everybody gets to spend more up-close personal time with election judges, with your identity being scruitinized. I estimate that even if everybody comes to the polls this coming March for the primaries with photo ID, whatever time they waited in the past will be at least doubled.
Fellow Texans, be sure to thank Governor Perry and his elephant friends for the extra time you’ll get to spend with your neighbors next election day. For the rest of you, don’t bother waiting up for the results from the Lone Star state.
… [T]he South is no longer all that different from the rest of the country. But that’s not so much because the South is now better — the open racism of the years before 1965 is gone – as because the rest of the country is now worse. It would be a sad irony if the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act because it regulates too much in too many places, when the truth is that it regulates too little in too few.
Jeffrey Toobin, writing in The New Yorker (Jan. 14, 2013) about the Voting Rights Act
… [A] recent study by Theodore Allen, an associate professor at Ohio State University, found that, in central Florida alone, long lines, exacerbated by a law that reduced the number of days for early voting, discouraged about fifty thousand people, most of them Democrats, from casting ballots.
Jeffrey Toobin, writing about voting rights and the 2012 election in The New Yorker, Jan. 14, 2013