The Justice Department, stripped by the Supreme Court’s Republican caucus of its legislated power to pre-clear voting changes in states with histories of racial discrimination, still has the power to challenge discriminatory laws in court. Yesterday, Eric Holder announced that DoJ is going after North Carolina’s law – transparently designed to make voting harder, rather than to reduce fraud – using the state’s own data to show the law’s racial impact. Fun fact: 70% of African-Americans who voted in NC during 2012 voted early, so the Republican legislature decided to go after early voting.
Another provision disenfranchises anyone who mistakenly comes to the wrong polling place. In the absence of pre-clearance, there would be nothing simpler than running a bunch of last-minute precinct-line or voting-location changes in minority neighborhoods.
I wonder whether it will turn out that John Roberts and his co-conspirators did the Republican Party any favor by unleashing this issue.
Footnote To foreclose what strikes me as an especially stupid line of commentary: of course the Republicans don’t want blacks to vote primarly because blacks tend to vote Democratic. (They also want to keep college students, of any race, from voting.) And no, that doesn’t make a plan to disenfranchise blacks any less racist.