Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act were meant to protect all Americans’ right to vote by forcing certain states to obtain federal approval before passing any new election laws and practices.
When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Shelby County in Shelby County v. Holder, the Court opened the floodgates for these states to pass new voting laws—even voter suppression laws—without the federal government’s approval.
In this episode:
- Huyen-Tram interviewed Matt Sherls, a civics teacher at SAMi. In his interview, he shared his knowledge and opinion regarding the Voting Rights Act, the ruling of Shelby County v. Holder, and voter suppression.
- Phoenix interviewed Julie Anderson, the Pierce County Auditor. She shared her insight on election laws and voting in Washington.
- Daniel, Greg, and Roman discuss how they would rule on Shelby County v. Holder. The discussion reflected the progression of their thoughts and changing opinions.
The oral arguments of the Supreme Court case can be accessed on Oyez. The oral arguments contains Justice Scalia talking about how the Senate vote to renew the Voting Rights Act’s sections increased to 98-0 in the 2006 renewal vote. Additionally, in the oral argument, the counsel for Shelby County stated that there is a high registration and turnout of black voters in Alabama.
This Washington Post article stated that there were only four cases of voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election.
The Nation reported that in 2012, Ohio Republicans tried to curtail the early voting period in 2012 from thirty-five to eleven days, with no voting on the Sunday before the election, when African-American churches historically rally their congregants to go to the polls. Thanks to successful protests, the Republicans had to repeal their own bill. But they still kept a ban on early voting in the last three days before Election Day, with an exception to the ban for active duty members of the military—who tend to lean Republican.
The states that had to acquire federal approval include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. Ohio never had to acquire approval.
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