Republicans are salivating over a U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Monday that appears to give them a green light to accelerate their voter suppression efforts, as the 2018 midterm elections approach. Indeed, a range of strategies to reduce voter turnout among Blacks and other likely Democratic voters are underway.
In a 5-4 split decision, the U.S. Supreme Court approved Ohio’s practice of removing registered voters from its rolls if they haven’t participated in recent elections, a practice that tends to disproportionately affect minority voters.
About a dozen other states controlled by Republicans now want to adopt Ohio’s system, according to NBC News.
States routinely update their voter registration lists, removing the names of people who no longer live in the district where they were previously registered. But Ohio has taken the practice to an extreme by deleting voters who failed to cast a ballot for several consecutive election cycles.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision marks an outrageous backwards step for voting rights,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “This kind of codified voter suppression disproportionately impacts people of color and marginalized communities that are already underrepresented at the ballot box, and could mean further disenfranchisement for millions of eligible voters across the country when other states adopt similar laws.”
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the Republican-controlled legislature is resurrecting a strict voter ID law that a federal court struck down because it was an effort to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” The U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 refused to hear North Carolina’s appeal of the decision.
The lawmakers are trying to pass an amendment to the state’s constitution to require government IDs in time for a statewide referendum that would appear on ballots in November.
Voting rights advocates are trying to recruit tech giants Amazon and Apple to assist in their fight, according to Think Progress. The advocates want the companies to pressure lawmakers by threatening not to open facilities in the state if they push through the amendment.
Lawmakers in several states have historically used another method—disenfranchisement of former felons—to suppress the Black vote. In Florida, the GOP is trying to keep its system in place. Currently, Floridians convicted of a felony must apply to the governor to have their voting rights restored, a goal that relatively few achieve.
Activists in Florida successfully collected more than the required 766,000 signatures needed in January to get a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would restore voting rights to those who served their time in prison.
This could have a major political impact in a state that President Donald Trump won by just 1.3 percent more votes than Hillary Clinton. Florida, which bars more felons from voting than any other state, currently blocks 21.5 percent of African Americans from voting.