Big Picture on Voting Rights

Since we talked earlier this morning about the voting rules prevailing in the states going into November 4, it’s a good time to assess what’s changed in the last two years. And the most comprehensive chronicler of the “war on voting,” The Nation‘s Ari Berman, thinks the GOP is winning that war even if it loses the occasional battle.

That’s mostly because of the U.S. Supreme Court, which knocked out the most important safeguard against voter suppression efforts in the most egregious states by disabling Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and also gave a green light to new restrictions in North Carolina and Ohio.

Unsurprisingly, there’s been no movement to “fix” the VRA in the Republican-controlled House.

All in all, the picture’s not good:

Voters in fifteen states will face new restrictions for the first time in a major election when they go to the polls in November, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Many are in states with highly contested Senate and gubernatorial races, like Kansas and Wisconsin.

It’s also notable that the brief period of news media interest in actually making voting easier that was marked at the beginning of this year by the report of the bipartisan “Lines Commission” expired very, very quickly.

The right to vote is increasingly viewed as a partisan political game, and at the moment, it’s reasonably clear who’s winning.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.