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What does a recent SCOTUS decision mean for all the voting restrictions introduced this year?

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What does a recent SCOTUS decision mean for all the voting restrictions introduced this year?

by Ray Levy Uyeda

This story was originally published in Prism.

On July 13, President Joe Biden defended his support For him By the law of the people, potentially the most important voting rights legislation since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. The Philadelphia speech was a response to the court’s decision made public just two weeks earlier. Judge Samuel Alito was the author of decision 6-3 in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, find that the state of Arizona had not violated the Constitution by passing two laws: one that prohibited certain individuals, such as family members or community members, from collecting and delivering ballots for multiple voters, and a second law that prohibited voters from casting ballots in electoral districts were not assigned to.

“It is not entirely surprising what we are seeing outside of the Supreme Court, given the politicization that has occurred over the last decade of the court and the erosion of support we have seen for voting rights since the Rights Act was dismantled. Vote. back in the Shelby [County] v. Holder case [almost] a decade ago, ”said Charlie Bonner, communications director for MOVE Texas, a grassroots non-profit non-partisan organization that mobilizes and registers young Texas voters. “We know right now that it is extraordinarily difficult to fight for the right to vote in court.”

While the law could negate many forms of voter disenfranchisement implemented at the state level over the past decade, end the civically damaging policies touted during the Trump administration, and address the gaps never fully covered by the legislation of the decade. By 1960, it is questionable how much of a chance the bill actually has. Although the legislation, known as HR 1, it is overwhelmingly popular Among voters, the legislation is unlikely to pass or have a debate on the floors of the Senate and House of Representatives. Coupled with a recent Supreme Court ruling, voter access organizations doubt that the legislative and judicial systems can correct the disparities they create.

More than 400 restrictive voting bills Introduced at the state level, the country is at a “critical turning point in the fight for voting freedom both in the states and at the federal level,” Bonner said. Voting rights advocates and organizers are concerned and hope that the Brnovich decision will bear the same fruit as Shelby County: Less than one day after the 2013 SCOTUS judgment, Texas instituted A severely restrictive voter identification law, a provision that some claim reduces voter fraud, although the evidence shows it really prevents poor, elderly and immigrant voters from casting their votes.

Proponents of the laws, such as Texas Republican leaders and the Republican National Committee, argued that the two provisions are necessary protectorates against voter fraud, while Democrats said that these laws will function as a restriction on voters and that fraud electoral, the justification of the laws hold – is relatively non-existent. An eyelash by the U.S. Elections Project, which includes analysis of data from University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, puts the tally at 35 fraudulent in-person votes out of more than 800 million cast in presidential elections between 2000 and 2014 Democrats believe that eliminating the infinitesimal percentage of fraudulent in Personal votes should not be more important than allowing millions of eligible voters to cast their votes. Both parties pointed to Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, a lesser-known piece of legislation that has an established test to assess whether a voting provision is racist or discriminatory in order to assess the constitutionality of the laws.

The restrictive voting laws, as Prism reported, will have an adverse impact on the ability of indigenous peoples living in the reserves to cast their votes. Indigenous peoples, who as a voting bloc are determinants of election results, often depend on a single person with access to a car and time to drive to the nearest polling place, which tends to be located far from reservations.

In short, in Brnovich, the state side court of Arizona, saying that the “simple downside [of voting] cannot be sufficient to prove a violation of [Section] 2. “In other words, the discriminatory impact does not convey a discriminatory intent. The court even recognized that the problems accessing the polls were real, but that a long period of early voting helped absorb the impact of living far from a precinct . “Burdens on remote communities are mitigated by the long period of time before an election during which a vote can be cast in person or by mail and by the legality of family or household members picking up and shipping a mail-in ballot, ”Alito wrote. Although the ruling was rather vague, voting rights activists and advocates of voting access know that the domino effects will continue to be felt during years.

“Despite the court’s own recognition of the inequity of its decision, this outcome will only make us stronger,” said Shannon Holsey, treasurer of the National Congress of American Indians and tribal president of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians. “Tribal nations in Arizona and across the Indian country made our voices heard in the 2020 elections and we will stand united to protect our legitimate access to the polls, including supporting legislation that will help create equal opportunity for all voters participate in each and every election. “

If the avalanche of statewide voter restrictions is a reaction to growing voter turnout from youth and people of color and unprecedented vote for postal assistance in the 2020 election, then Bonner hopes that the SCOTUS ruling will catalyze a backlash.

“We can no longer trust this legal system,” Bonner said. “It’s really going to take power from the people and we really see that this is being driven by young advocates across the country who are getting more and more involved. I think even if you look back at the last election, we saw that historic turnout driven by youth, particularly youth of color, but we also saw youth step up and become poll workers. “

Bonner is right: in 2020, 1.3 million of Texas youth voters cast early votes in the election and accounted for nearly 13% of the state electorate. He believes this shows how vital it is that voters turn out in overwhelming numbers to prevent voter suppression from tarnishing the outcome of an election.

“That means we are not going to the polls alone,” Bonner added. “That means that we are bringing our friends and neighbors with us, that we ourselves are becoming trusted sources of electoral information for people who may not have access. That’s something we can all do to break down those barriers because we know we can’t trust anyone else right now. It will be the power of the people that overcomes these laws. “

This week, the Texas legislature was ready to meet for a special legislative session required by the Republican governor. Greg Abbott when the Democratic caucus organized a strike in protest of the agenda, which included voter restrictions. On the first day of the session, Bonner says 300 Texans demonstrated in the House of Representatives and then “went from office to office advocating for the protection of the right to vote, not these intentional barriers.”

Despite pushing for voter protections to be passed in his speech, Biden did not offer any structural changes to American civic and electoral participation, although that is exactly what Bonner said is necessary to protect voting rights. Instead, communities affected by voter restrictions are again being left alone to find solutions to work or break down those barriers to ensure their votes are counted. And the promise to develop and implement is in large part why voters flocked in such high numbers to vote for the Biden administration in the 2020 election.

“It will take federal intervention in the form of the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Promotion Act to make sure that we can have the federal oversight that we need that worked for decades to protect voting freedom in states like Texas, “He said.

Ray Levy-Uyeda is a Bay Area-based freelance writer covering justice and activism. Find them on Twitter @raylevyuyeda.

Prism is a non-profit news outlet run by BIPOC that focuses on the people, places and issues that are not currently reported by the national media. We are committed to producing the kind of journalism that treats black, indigenous and colored people, women, the LGBTQ + community, and other invisible groups as experts on our own lived experiences, our resilience, and our struggles for justice. Sign up to our mailing list to receive our stories in your inbox, and ffollow us on Twitter, Facebook, Y Instagram.

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