This month marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby v. Holder, which dismantled a key provision of the Voting Rights Act requiring certain jurisdictions to submit voting-related changes for federal review.
In the ruling, the majority on the Supreme Court found the formula for identifying which jurisdictions would be subject to federal review was outdated and pointed to increased minority participation in voting as a primary reason.
The decision, a decade later, continues to reverberate across the country as Republican-led states pass new voting restrictions that, in several cases, would have been subject to federal review. Meanwhile, conservative-leaning justices remain interested in weighing other elements of the landmark 1965 law, with one case pending before the court that could make it harder for minority groups to gain fair representation.
Here are some tips for localizing the story:
READ AP’S LATEST
Key elements of the Voting Rights Act have been reauthorized with bipartisan support five times since its initial passage, the most recent in 2006. But congressional efforts to address the enforcement gap created by the 2013 Shelby decision have languished amid increasingly partisan battles over the ballot box.
Under the Voting Rights Act, a formula was used to identify jurisdictions with a history of voting restrictions and low voter registration or participation rates. These jurisdictions were then required to submit any voting changes for federal review, either to the U.S. Justice Department or the federal court in Washington, D.C.
The law included mechanisms for jurisdictions to “bail out” of the federal review requirement after demonstrating specific improvements, and dozens had over the years. At the time of the Shelby decision, nine states and a few dozen counties and towns in six other states were still on the list for federal review.
In the years since the Shelby decision, lawmakers in the nine “preclearance” states have passed at least 77 voting-related laws, according to data collected by the Voting Rights Lab, which tracks such legislation in the states. Most improved voter access and would have likely sailed through federal review.
However, at least 14 laws — implemented in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — added new voting restrictions, the Voting Rights Lab found. This includes nine, high-profile bills passed in the aftermath of the 2020 election that would have likely drawn more scrutiny.
ADD LOCAL CONTEXT
These jurisdictions were subject to preclearance at the time of the Shelby decision:
— South Carolina
— Kings County, California
— Monterey County, California
— Yuba County, California
— Collier County, Florida
— Hardee County, Florida
— Hendry County, Florida
— Hillsborough County, Florida
— Monroe County, Florida
— Bronx County, New York
— Kings County, New York
— New York County, New York
— Anson County, North Carolina
— Beaufort County, North Carolina
— Bertie County, North Carolina
— Bladen County, North Carolina
— Camden County, North Carolina
— Caswell County, North Carolina
— Chowan County, North Carolina
— Cleveland County, North Carolina
— Craven County, North Carolina
— Cumberland County, North Carolina
— Edgecombe County, North Carolina
— Franklin County, North Carolina
— Gaston County, North Carolina
— Gates County, North Carolina
— Granville County, North Carolina
— Greene County, North Carolina
— Guilford County, North Carolina
— Halifax County, North Carolina
— Harnett County, North Carolina
— Hertford County, North Carolina
— Hoke County, North Carolina
— Jackson County, North Carolina
— Lee County, North Carolina
— Lenoir County, North Carolina
— Martin County, North Carolina
— Nash County, North Carolina
— Northampton County, North Carolina
— Onslow County, North Carolina
— Pasquotank County, North Carolina
— Perquimans County, North Carolina
— Person County, North Carolina
— Pitt County, North Carolina
— Robeson County, North Carolina
— Rockingham County, North Carolina
— Scotland County, North Carolina
— Union County, North Carolina
— Vance County, North Carolina
— Washington County, North Carolina
— Wayne County, North Carolina
— Wilson County, North Carolina
— Shannon County, South Dakota
— Todd County, South Dakota
— Clyde Township, Allegan County, Michigan
— Buena Vista Township, Saginaw County, Michigan
CHECK YOUR VOTING LAWS
The Voting Rights Lab has a comprehensive state-level tracker that includes information on voting laws introduced in all states for the years 2021-2023. This includes bill numbers, what happened to the legislation and whether it improves, restricts or has a mixed effect on voter access/election administration.
For more information: https://tracker.votingrightslab.org/
TAKE YOUR REPORTING FURTHER
Find state chapters of national groups like Common Cause and the League of Women Voters and ask them:
— How have changes to state voting laws affected voters? How have these changes affected your work? What impact has the Shelby decision had on how you educate and engage voters? What lawsuits, if any, have you been engaged in to challenge these changes?
Find local community groups that are engaging and educating voters and ask them about the work they do, whether it’s become easier or harder in recent years.
Find voters to share their stories of voting. Do they find it easier or harder today? Have they had to stand in long lines to vote? What do they do to avoid voting problems?
EMBED THIS GRAPHIC
This AP embed graphic shows election law changes in the nine states formerly covered by preclearance.
— Preview link: https://interactives.ap.org/embeds/AmiIu/12/
— Embed code:
Localize It is an occasional feature produced by The Associated Press for its customers’ use. Questions can be directed to Katie Oyan at email@example.com.