One of the major effects of the 2010 Republican wave election was the subsequent passage of a raft of voter ID laws and other legislation aimed at curtailing voting rights across the country. The aim, often little disguised, is to reduce voting among racial minorities, students and poorer voters generally, all of whom tend to vote disproportionately for Democrats. The voter suppression lobby has gained a number of key court decisions over recent years. So it has been a looming question just how big an effect the clampdown on voting will have on the 2012 election.
But over the last few weeks the Justice Department and the Obama administration generally have signalled clearly that they will move aggressively to mount legal challenges to these laws around the country. This would seem to be particularly so in states that come under Section 5 VRA jurisdiction. Here’s our report from earlier this afternoon on the DOJ’s decision to block South Carolina’s new voter ID law because the state’s own data shows it will disproportionately impact minority voters.
Also worth noting is the aggressive campaign the Obama campaign and Democratic organizations in general plan to mount to offset the effects of these laws on the ground next year.
This whole story gets told in a series of DOJ decisions, court rulings, private lawsuits and organizational moves on both sides of the voting rights equation. So it’s inherently less high-octane a story than the campaign scramble. It’s not drawn in the same primary colors. But it’s one of the big stories of the 2012 campaign. And we’ll be covering it aggressively from now until the voting is done next November.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.