3Center or American Progress |State and Federal Courts: The Last Stand in Voting Rights
governmen in 2012 or he rs ime since 1896, and heir eor o resric he righo voe is now in ull swing.
Republican legislaors in he ar Heel Sae are consider-ing a bill ha would impose a ax on parens whose college-suden children regiser o voe in he ciy or own where hey atend college.
Norh Carolina legislaors are alsoconsidering bills o make voer regisraion more dicul, end same-day voer regisra-ion, make i harder or ex-elons o voe, reduce early voing, and end early voing onSundays.
Similar eors are underway in scores o sae legislaures, including several jurisdicions ha were previously required o preclear heir voing laws.
Despie he Supreme Cour’s reusal o acknowledge he coninuing need
or preclear-ance, here are real and meaningul opporuniies or change beween now and he nexelecion. Voers are waking up o he problems surrounding our voing sysem. Sae leg-islaors have inroduced dozens o laws o expand access o voing in 2013.
Congresscan pass an amendmen o he Voing Righs Ac ha ses up a preclearance sysemha he Cour would no rule unconsiuional. In ligh o Presiden Barack Obama’screaion o a biparisan commission on voing and nascen eors in sae houses acrosshe counry o proec voers, he poliical will and public senimen are now on he sideo expanding access o he ballo box. Te challenge is o harness he energy behind be-er voing proecions oday o achieve boh shor-erm improvemens and longer-ermchanges ha allow every American o paricipae ully and equally in our democracy.No conversaion abou elecions in his counry can be complee wihou alking abouhe criical role cours play. Hisory ells us ha all o hese laws and policies, wheheraimed a proecing voing righs or limiing hem, end up being challenged in cour.In jus he pas year, we have seen ederal and sae cours weighing in on purges o voing rolls, voer ID laws, and disenranchising gerrymandering schemes. Coursoen serve as he las sand agains eors o disenranchise he same groups o voersha have hisorically aced discriminaion. In ligh o he
ruling, he U.S.Deparmen o Jusice will no longer preclear voing changes, and civil-righs advocaes will have o rely more on liigaion, which oen canno proceed unil a voer has beendiscriminaed agains.
Federal courts are crucial to preventing attacks on voting
As hese voer-suppression saues collide wih he consiuional righ o voe, hecours are crucial o ensuring ha every American’s voe couns. In recen years, ederalcours have decided challenges o sae laws ha relae o he drawing o congressionaldisric lines or require proo o ciizenship rom voers in ederal elecions. Federalcours inerpre saues such as he Naional Voer Regisraion Ac, which requiressaes o provide more opporuniies or ciizens o regiser o voe
and esablishes a“ederal orm” or voer regisraion.
Te orm requires regisrans o swear or armha hey are U.S. ciizens, bu an Arizona law sough o require addiional documen-aion o ciizenship. Te U.S. Ninh Circui Cour o Appeals ruled in 2012 ha he