Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is outdated
Events surrounding the 2012 election showed the Voting Rights Act is still needed
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted to stem voter suppression on the basis of race in the South. The law contains a provision -- Section 5 -- that identifies the worst historical offenders and requires that election changes in those jurisdictions pass federal review. Contrary to the idea that this section is outdated, events surrounding the 2012 election showed that it is still an important defense of voting rights. Doug Kendall, legal expert and founder of the Constitutional Accountability Center, described the situation:
As everyone knows by now, in the run-up to the 2012 election, the right to vote was under siege. Conservatives throughout the country tried to change election rules to disenfranchise ordinary Americans - passing restrictive voter ID laws, shortening early voting hours, and making it more difficult to register to vote. These restrictions had the greatest impact on young, minority, elderly, and poor voters.
The happier, but lesser known, part of this story is how effective the Justice Department and progressive organizations were in going to court and using the Voting Rights Act to prevent the worst of these statutes from going into force. In the run up to the election there were a number of hugely important lower court rulings that enforced the requirement that states with a history of racially discriminatory voting restrictions must "preclear" with the Department of Justice any change in voting laws. These rulings provide critical new evidence of precisely why preclearance is still a much needed tool to protect the right to vote free from racial discrimination. Without the Voting Rights Act in place, African American and Hispanic voters in states across the country might have been denied their constitutional right to cast a ballot on election day.