The November election marred by insanely long lines at some polling places, and by Republican efforts to make it harder than ever to cast a ballot—especially if you happen to be poor or non-white. Now, voting rights supporters are preparing a major counter-offensive. Sen. Barbara Boxer has already introduced a measure to combat excessive wait times. And Senate Judiciary Chair Pat Leahy has called for hearings to address a range of voting problems, including restrictive voter ID laws and an error-riddled voter registration system.
Meanwhile, opponents of voting rights are active, too. In several states, including Nevada, Florida, and Montana, they’re planning to push voter ID laws or other efforts to make voting more difficult, saying they’re needed to protect against virtually non-existent “voter fraud”. Perhaps most significant of all, the Supreme Court will consider a challenge to a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which required that certain states and jurisdictions, mostly in the south, win federal approval before making changes to their voting systems. If the court strikes down that requirement, voting advocates fear it could be easier for some states with a record of racial discrimination to enact the kind of restrictive voting laws that caused concern this year.
One thing’s clear: Though restrictions on voting may have backfired in 2012 by motivating Obama supporters who might otherwise have failed to tourn out, the fight over the issue isn’t going away any time soon.
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