Why Voting Laws are Becoming Difficult to Fight Against
It's safe to say that 2020 felt more like a decade of events rather than a single year. This is because everything from highlighting police brutality to how the nation handles a health crisis was pushed to the forefront of people's lives. However, one of the issues that continue to be the main topic of discussion across the nation today is voting rights laws. Mainly sparked by the false claims of widespread voter fraud after former President Trump's election loss to President Biden, many Republican-led states began to seek to change their voting laws. Because this occurred late into the year, much of the actual legislation and legal fights are now happening within 2021. The issue here involves the reality that proponents of voting rights are continuously losing legal cases. So, why is it suddenly becoming more and more difficult to fight against these laws?
Why Voting Laws are Being Changed
As stated above, after former President Trump lost his re-election bid, he began to spread the false notion that the election was somehow stolen from him due to irregularities and the current voting laws within the states he lost in. This led Republican-led states to seek to change how their elections were conducted. Everything from the time the polls were closed to how mail-in ballots were going to be handled was on the table. Understandably, Democratic leaders and some within the public felt that the Republican party was purposely changing laws so it can make it much more difficult for specific demographics of people that tend to vote Democrat to cast their ballot. For example, drop boxes for mail-in ballots were greatly reduced in Texas counties from multiple locations within a county to one location. This, of course, making it much more difficult for the elderly and the poor to make it to these boxes on time or at all.
Supreme Court Rules in Favor of New Arizona Voting Laws
Over the past few months, states such as Georgia have been the center of controversy due to their voting law changes. In fact, Georgia ended up losing the MLB All-Star game after the MLB announced they would be protesting the changes. Today, however, the attention was on Arizona as they attempted to make their own changes to their voting laws. Although many fought against these changes, on Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States voted in a 6-3 decision to uphold the new Arizona voting laws.
Raising the Bar
The decision made by the United States Supreme Court was not only a loss for voting rights advocates, but it has made the process of fighting against these laws that much more difficult. This is because the bar for sending these types of laws to the federal level has become almost impossible, with those that do reach the Supreme Court having little to no chance of coming out in their favor. This has forced voting rights advocates to change their approach as they can no longer count on the Supreme Court to be a backstop for preventing racially discriminatory voting restrictions. Director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Sam Spital, said after the ruling that the Supreme court is not going to protect democracy right now when it's especially needed.
Choosing the Wrong Cases
The fight to protect voting rights has been going on for years, but it really began to be highlighted in the media in 2016. That year, the Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit against Arizona for their attempt to change voting laws. However, even proponents of the lawsuit felt like it was a weak vehicle for challenging voting law changes. In fact, even the Biden Administration found no real threat to people's voting rights within the new Arizona law. As a result, many are sounding the alarm to Democratic leaders and advocates not to pursue these types of cases anymore, as stacking loss over loss can drastically hurt future challenges.
The Attention Turns to 2022
Because advocates of voting rights can no longer count on the supreme court, they are now setting their focus on the 2022 governor elections. The DNC and voting rights advocates are mainly going to concentrate on states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin who all have Democratic governors at the moment. The fear is that if they lose to a Republican, those states could also see widespread changes to their voting laws.