by Jeremy Leaming
Whether it’s outrageous and wholly unwarranted new restrictions on voting or new voting districts concocted to keep minorities from participating in democracy, rightwing lawmakers and their corporate backers, over the past two years, have stridently pushed an ignoble and tawdry campaign of voter suppression.
But federal courts this week dealt the anti-democracy campaign some setbacks. First, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s in State of Texas v. U.S. swept aside the state’s redistricting plans as discriminatory. The new Texas voting districts, the federal court found violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because they discriminated against Latino voters.
Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle said he would sign a permanent injunction against a provision of Florida’s voting overhaul law that made it much more difficult for groups like the League of Women Voters to conduct voter registrations.
Deidre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida told The Associated Press that the state’s “anti-voter law created impassable roadblocks for our volunteers, who have been bringing Floridians into our democratic process for over 72 years.”
Florida, along with Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, has sought to implement some of the more onerous restrictions on voting. Not only did Florida seek to shut down voter registration drives, it also enacted rigid voter ID requirements and sought to greatly limit early voting opportunities.
Earlier this month the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia held that Florida’s curtailment of early voting opportunities ran afoul of the Voting Rights Act, which applies to states and localities that have a history of voter discrimination. The court held that curtailing early voting opportunities in Hillsborough, Monroe, Collier, Hardee and Hendry counties would have a discriminatory impact on African American voters. The state, the court held, “failed to satisfy its burden of proving that those changes will not have a retrogressive effect on minority voters,” and that the restrictions on early voting was “analogous to closing polling places in disproportionately African-American precincts.”
Today the efforts of Texas to manipulate the vote were dealt yet another blow. The state’s onerous voter ID law also violates the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia ruled in State of Texas v. Holder.