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February 8, 2016

4 Effects of Voting Rights Ruling on 2014 Midterms

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling to gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act will change the country’s politics. And in some cases, the change could come as soon as 2014.

On the surface, the ruling now allows certain states to make changes to their voting laws without federal approval. But the political implications will reach beyond those states, especially as Democrats try to use the decision to energize minority voters for the midterm elections.

On Tuesday, the high court ruled unconstitutional a key part, Section 4, of the Voting Rights Act. That provision detailed the formula used to decide which states must have pre-clearance from the federal government before making changes to voting laws because, according to the now-voided provision, those jurisdictions had a history of discrimination.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. described the Section 4 coverage formula as outdated in his majority opinion, calling on Congress to develop a new way to pick which states must get federal approval. But it’s unlikely the House and Senate will pass something soon, given the contentious nature of voting rights and the gridlock on Capitol Hill.

As a result, it’s likely no state will have to seek federal approval to change its voting laws in the immediate future.

To be sure, the high court’s ruling will have a greater effect in the long term. For example, in 2020, states previously covered by the law’s Section 5 won’t have to get federal approval for their redrawn congressional maps, giving local officials new leeway to draw district boundaries. Those new maps will take effect in 2022.

But voters could see the effects of this week’s ruling much sooner as well. Here are four ways the ruling could play into the 2014 midterms:

1. Voter ID Laws

Within hours of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Texas secretary of State announced that new voter ID photo requirements would take effect immediately. Last year, a federal court struck down this voter ID requirement law, which was covered by Section 5.

Look for other states to do the same. A federal court struck down a similar voter ID law last year in South Carolina, another previously covered state. Both Alabama and Virginia were in the process of seeking pre-clearance to implement voter identification laws under the same provision, now voided because of the court’s ruling.

2. Political Messaging

Democrats will use the high court’s ruling to energize the party’s base. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and civil rights icon, told MSNBC on Tuesday that the ruling “will motivate hundreds of thousand of people,” especially minorities, to vote.

The ruling comes at a crossroads for Republicans, who are looking at new ways to reach out to minority voters following the 2012 elections.

“The court essentially passed the ball to the Congress, and we’re going to make what House Republicans do with that ball a big issue in 2014,” said Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “We’re not going to attack the Supreme Court. We’re going to attack Republicans for refusing to listen to the court and redo the Section 4 formulas.”

The GOP retort? It’s unclear. A top House GOP message guru hoped its party members will acknowledge the court’s decision and leave it at that. But some members, including Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, advocated for Congress to develop a new coverage formula.

“I don’t think we’ll know anything today or tomorrow or this week,” said Westmoreland, the House GOP’s point person on redistricting last cycle. “But at some point, we’re going to have to make a decision about whether to update it or just let Section 5 go away. “

3. Texas Two-Step

The country’s most-fought-over congressional map won’t have to be pre-cleared by the federal government anymore. In the short-term, that means the legislature will likely pass a court-ordered interim congressional map from the 2012 elections and use it for the foreseeable future. GOP Gov. Rick Perry has indicated he supports passing this map and plans to sign it into law.

The ruling puts a pause on the redistricting saga in Texas, where the original redrawn map was struck down during the federal approval process in 2012. However, Democrats warn they will sue to overturn this map in federal court under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. That provision outlaws any voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race.

4. More Lawsuits on Section 2

The high court was clear in its ruling that it wouldn’t touch Section 2. Roberts wrote that this provision “applies nationwide, is permanent, and is not at issue in this case.”

As a result, activists will now use this as their primary legal vehicle to try to overturn changes to voting laws. But unlike Section 5, the onus is on the plaintiff to prove discrimination in Section 2, making the legal challenges arduous and expensive.

“Any challenger to an election law in a previously covered Section 5 jurisdiction is now going to have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and spend years fighting the law in Section 2, when the burden is on the plaintiff,” said Jeff Wice, a redistricting attorney who works with Democrats.

  • toptwome

    Republicans wrong again. Why do you think republicans were trying all the voter suppression in the last election? It was not because they were so very confidence of winning. They were doing their best to make sure that blacks and other minorities had to jump through some hoops to vote. They were ending early voting and Sunday voting when blacks liked to go vote after church. It is our job now to make sure those who don’t drive get an ID. My mother had one because she did not drive. We can make the IDs available to any and everyone who wants one.

  • Winston Blake
  • bishop24230

    toptwome – You are the one that is worng. Requiring a photo ID is not supression. The states that require a state issued ID will give you one free of charge if you cannot afford one. Democrats are the ones that use early voting to stuff the ballot boxes (remember the Obama voter in Ohio that voted 6 times and couldn’t believe she was charged with voter fraud?, in Allen West’s district there were 75,000 more votes cast than the county had registered voters). You don’t have to jumo through any hoops. Just show a state issue ID that most folks have anyway to buy alcohol, receive governement benfits, etc.
    You folks on the left want your cake and eat it to. You moan and cry about big money on the right like the Koch Brothers. Yet, George Soros and the labor unions can pump millions into the election process and that is OK by you. You just realize that voter ID laws will curb the fraud you folks get away with now.

  • NickP

    The Voting Act in the 1960s was to
    determine the right to vote for ALL citizens in Southern states – specifically
    many African-Americans who did not have that right. The conservative Supremes
    have now turned black the clock for 50 years

  • hepette

    prove voter fraud by libs…..ever hear of colin small? among others…..prove its by libs

  • camdenme2

    Watch the libs go nuts !!! The libs don’t support the rule of Law !!!

  • NickP

    There are good rules and bad rules.

  • Epilogue

    You still trying to put out those stories that nobody could ever find proof of just like republicans could not even prove voter fraud in court. Also it is not easy for many to get a voter ID as many of the poor & elderly & minorities have found such as being required to have a birth certificate to get a photo ID.

    “In other words, no birth certificate, no voter ID — but also no photo ID, no birth certificate.”

    Some states like MS & other southern states even have more hurdles to get one & costs do occur.

  • Rob_Chapman

    There is a very strong case to be made for strict voter identification laws in the USA.

    We invite and encourage large numbers of foreigners to join our communities and have very few distinctions between resident aliens and US citizens.

    But more significantly, we have low rates of voter participation and it is impossible to know whether everyone arriving at a polling place is registered and if the prospective voter is at the right polling station.

    Voter ID not only lets the polling registrars know that a person is a bona fide voter, but the credential gives them information to direct the voter to the right polling station if need be.

    We went through a Presidential election in which voter ID was an issue, it is now almost sixteen months to the next federal election. It is now up to the political parties and the political leaders to get their voters registered, mobilized and out for the next election.

    Let the voters decide: not only who runs the government, but how critical it is to them to show up and make that decision.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Bishop, this is a very critical comment that is really not appropriate.

    Concluding that every political act is motivated by some sort of partisan chicanery is exactly the wrong thing for America right now.

  • redastcyr

    The write up can sound as nice as it wants but the bottom line is Supreme Court Justice Roberts has given the go ahead to cheat to the White Right who cannot win any more elections because of it’s race bating an one sided views, against minorities.

    They would rather cheat then do the jobs they were sent to Congress to do on behalf of ALL American voters
    No there is nothing nice or right about what Justice Roberts has done on behalf of the Far Right Corporate pimped Republicans to cheat minorities in our face
    Even worse are their supporters who benefit from this shame will say nothing an will rush out, vote 4 the sweetheart opportunity they have gotten to cheat without worry
    One word for this shame comes to mind DISGUSTING!!!

  • redastcyr

    Oh No you wont get away with trying to put cheating on Photo ID That is not the issue an you know it
    Nothing wrong with asking for ID Matter fact most folks present one anyhow
    It’s the demand for specific ID when it’s not necessary when u may have employment ID or School ID an documents like phone bill, with your name an address, which could be pretty much a host of different items
    No this is NOT about ID cards an you will not get away with helping the republican party get away with that cheating lie when the world watched just the 2012 election with untold numbers of people waiting in lines some up until the wee hours of the morning because some dog states refused to add more hrs, machines in black an brown communities

    It was horrible an everyone knows it!

  • redastcyr

    This is NOT about ID an if you can’t find anything better to help pimp Republicans opportunity to cheat the other Just STFU because you sound foolish, disgusting, ignorant an a willing party to down right CHEATING!!!

  • redastcyr

    No Libs do not support lying cheating an outright STEALING because that’s the only way you may win No we don’t. That’s a fact!!

  • bishop24230

    Epilogue – Which story cannot be proven? Here is the story about the Ohio woman who voted for Obama 6 times, and she could not believe she was charged with voter fraud:

    I guess now I see why you libs don’t think that voter fraud occurs. It is not fraud if you only vote six times in the same election.

    If these voters have no birth certificates, how did they ever enroll in school?

    Also, I did not say that no cost was involved in getting a state issue ID. I said if you cannot afford one the state would give you free of charge. Certainly, if you can afford one you have to pay for it.

    The real voter suppression is what the libs do to the military voters stationed overseas.

  • Epilogue

    This was proven & the republicans never did prove wide-spread voter fraud which is why they lost their cases in the court but this was proven & did happen:

    GOP Voter Fraud Accusations Suddenly Blowing Up In Their Faces

    Several Florida Republicans Admit Voter Fraud was Subterfuge for GOP Victory

    I know who pat dollard is, LOL.

  • Rob_Chapman

    I can agree with your point prior to the 2012 election.

    GOP state legislative majorities elected in 2010 waiting until the spring of 2012 to unveil voter ID plans had hidden political agendas.

    Nevertheless, voter ID requirements are unobjectionable and should probably be tightened.

    Measures to provide free ID credentials and to certify voter registrars ameliorate some of the worst provisions of the previous acts.

    The bottom line redastcyr, is that voter ID is coming and we are now on a more level playing field with those regs.

    We will do far better orgainizing our political operations, registering our voters and moblizing them in 2014 than we will in complaining about laws which we cannot change and which serve valid public interests.

  • Logical Liberal

    Voter ID disenfranchises 11% of Americans to stop voter fraud, which doesn’t even occur.

  • bishop24230

    Here is why we need photo ID laws:
    This woman was voting for relatives that are in comas. When she was first charged with voter fraud she was quoted as saying she didn’t know why they were charging her. She had no idea why what she was doing was wrong. Well she will 5 years to sit and think about it.
    I know these shenanigans happen on both sides. That is why we should do what we can to prevent it by anyone. Photo ID laws are a simple, reasonable, common sense way to start combating voter fraud.

  • bishop24230
  • bishop24230

    Logical Liberal – ID’s should not disenfranchise anyone.

    You really think fraud doesn’t occur? Read this one:

    James O’Keefe disguised himself as a bearded white man and walked into a polling place and was offered AG Eric Holder’s ballot by simnply giving a name and an address.

  • hepette

    i bet you didnt even look for colin small……..most of the fraud is from repukes get a clue!

  • bishop24230

    hepette – I know that both sides are guilty of shenanigans. But you are incorrect when you say that most of the fraud happens on our side.

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