In June 2013, North Carolina passed the most sweeping voting restrictions in the country, requiring strict voter ID, cutting early voting and eliminating same-day registration, pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds, and out-of-precinct voting, among other political reforms. The state defended its cutbacks in court last summer by invoking, of all places, New York.
On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, which has been under attack ever since. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down crucial components of the act in a case called Shelby County v. Holder, when it ruled that states with histories of voting-related racial discrimination no longer had to "pre-clear" changes to their voting laws with the federal government. Immediately following the Shelby ruling, several states passed laws that made it harder for people to vote. The 2016 race is the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act. "Sixteen states have new voting restrictions in place," notes Ari Berman, who covers voting rights for The Nation. His recent piece is "63,756 Reasons Racism is Still Alive in South Carolina." His book is titled "Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America."
Congress can’t agree on much these days, but on February 11, the House unanimously passed a resolution awarding the Congressional Gold Medal—the body’s highest honor—to the foot soldiers of the 1965 voting-rights movement in Selma, Alabama.
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There's a very important editorial in The Nation this week that I hope everyone will take the time to read. It's about the wrongful conviction of Anthony McKinney, who's been in prison for thirty-one years for a murder he did not commit. I'm posting the relevant portions below.