States jump to implement Voter ID laws after SCOTUS ruling

Now free from federal oversight, states are scrambling to push through restrictive voter registration laws


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Jillian Rayfield
June 26, 2013 12:47AM (UTC)

Now that certain states are no longer bound by the Voting Rights Act's requirement that they run new voting regulations by the federal government, Republican legislators in those states are jumping at the chance to move forward with voter ID laws.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Tuesday that the state will now move ahead with a law requiring photo ID before voting, since it no longer has to get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice to implement it. “With today’s decision, the State’s voter ID law will take effect immediately,” Abbott said in a statement to the Dallas Morning News. “Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government.”

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The law will go into effect on Thursday. From the Morning News:

Starting Thursday, Texas driver license offices will begin issuing photo IDs to anyone who don’t already have one. Under the 2011 state law creating one of the state’s most strict voter ID laws, the certificates are free and valid for six years. To qualify, an applicant must show U.S. citizenship and Texas residency. The required documents are listed here to verify U.S. citizenship and identity.

In North Carolina, state Sen. Tom Apodaca, also a Republican, said that the state Legislature will move forward with its own voter ID measure, which passed the state Assembly but has languished in the state Senate until the Court handed down its ruling. Apodaca told WRAL News that the Legislature didn't want to have to go through pre-clearance if the Court was just going to strike down the requirement. "So now we can go with the full bill," he said.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann was similarly quick to move forward, saying that the state will begin implementing a constitutional amendment, passed by voters, requiring voter ID. "Mississippi citizens have earned the right to determine our voting processes," said Hosemann, WLBT reports. "Our relationships and trust in each other have matured. This chapter is closed."

The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision on Tuesday held that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. Section 4 is the part of the law that determines which areas of the country with a history of racial discrimination are required, under Section 5, to get approval from the federal government before changing voter regulations. Since Section 4 is no longer in effect, Section 5 is essentially inoperable until (and if) Congress passes a new formula.


Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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