Webcomic explains how weakening the Voting Rights Act led to voter suppression in 2016

On The Nib, Andy Warner posts a quick primer on the Voting Rights Act, which was weakened in a 2013 Supreme Court case that struck down the requirement for districts with a history of racist voter suppression to get federal oversight for changes to their voting procedures; of note is the section on Jeff Sessions, whose Attorney General confirmation hearing is underway right now. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Notable Replies

  1. This is an excellent summation of the situation and why it's dangerous.

  2. TobinL says:

    Other than at the extreme ends of the probability curve or in conspiracy theory fantasies no.

  3. tekk says:

    Does it exist? Yes.

    Does it happen on a scale that could actually change anything? No, not as far as anyone who's actually looked into the subject can tell, as far as I'm aware. The numbers usually work out to be, say, less than 50 confirmed cases in the last decade in my state. I mean, if they're all colluding on the same side and all in the state's least populated county I guess they might flip a district or something..

    The fun one that you often hear is about all those dead people voting, and they're not wrong: there are actually plenty of dead people who vote in every election. Rather than outright fraud, what pretty much always happens there is that they voted early or by mail and then happened to die before election day.

  4. Yes. In election after election, Democrats keep voting.

  5. tekk says:

    Sweet, more research time! So the article indicated that they didn't just set certain geographical bounds for where that particular provision was in effect, but rather said that there were criteria set down and even showed that there were places where there had been protections which had been removed because the places no longer fit the criteria. The disclaimer gets out of the way first: I'm not a lawyer, I'm not studying to be a lawyer, none of my immediate family are lawyers, although my godmother is and so is the son of my favorite teacher in university. This is just something I do for fun so take my interpretations with an appropriate amount of salt. I've gone ahead and linked the relevant texts so you can interpret them yourself.

    So off again we go to Cornell, which I swear is one of the best things to happen to the US: they have every federal law there is available to the public.

    The relevant section to what was mentioned is this one, US Code Title 52 Subtitle 1 Chapter 103 Section 4. That'll be section(a) if you please. Now I'm not going to paste that whole thing because it's mostly just a single 400 word long sentence (did nobody teach these guys grammar?) But a lot of that is just repetition to cover numerous elective cycles. The gist is that whenever a state or political subdivision tries to do something called out in 10303(a), and that division meets the criteria set in the first sentence of 10303(b), then they undergo review before being allowed.

    So that kicks us off to Section 3, B is particularly applicable, since we're wondering about the criteria for being judged, and here we see the problem that Maiq takes and that the justices cited in the majority opinion: the law specified cutoff dates.

    Is the currently effective passage, notice the problem there? We're forced to work with the data from 1972. No changes after 1972 are reflected although Congress would be able to amend the law to do so, which was the complaint of the majority opinion. Maiq definitely seems to be right: a massive part of the blame lies on the legislators who should've fixed the section ages ago.

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