Wednesday, March 23, 2016

There Were 5-Hour Lines to Vote in Arizona Because the Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act

The Nation reports There Were 5-Hour Lines to Vote in Arizona Because the Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act.

But many other Arizonans left the polls in disgust. The lines were so long because election officials in Phoenix’s Maricopa County, the largest in the state, reduced the number of polling places by 70 percent from 2012 to 2016, from 200 to just 60—one polling place per every 21,000 voters.

But after the Supreme Court gutted the VRA in 2013, Arizona could make election changes without federal oversight. The long lines in Maricopa County last night were the latest example of the disastrous consequences of that decision.

This impacted voters across the county, but some more than others. There were predominantly Latino areas in Maricopa County with no polling places. “It is no coincidence many poor and predominantly Latino areas didn’t get a polling place,” wrote Arizona Republic columnist Elvia Diaz.

The problem with giving states complete freedom in voting is that problems have no recourse. Maybe the ACLU gets someone to sue and in a couple of years Arizona is forced to change their voting procedures to something else that may or may not fix the problem. With Section 5 of the VRA states had to get approval before making changes. The problem is, since states legally have more authority over voting than the federal government, it was only some states covered, those that had a history of manipulating voting to disenfranchise minorities. So Justice Roberts and others found that to be unconstitutional because it wasn't applying the law equally to all the states. The right answer is to have Section 5 of the VRA cover all states. Of course then Congress will try to defund the Justice Department organization that pre-clears the voting changes.

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