Although voting requirements are well defined in the Constitution, a new Pennsylvania voting law could prevent up to nine percent of the state’s population from voting this November.
In 2008, Calera, Alabama shifted the boundaries of its voting districts in a way that drastically altered the city's racial geography. Almost immediately, the U.S. Department of Justice wrote that Calera couldn't go through with it. Is voter discrimination based on race a thing of the past? Or should the government still keep watch on those states which have an unpleasant history of racism?
North Carolina Senate Bill 514, more commonly referred to as Amendment 1, is far from unique on the surface: Twenty-nine other states already have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, including all Southeastern states. But because of North Carolina's unique place in the 2012 presidential elections — a likely battleground state, which will also play host to the Democratic National Committee — the amendment has raised eyebrows.
On Monday, the Justice Department blocked a new Texas voter identification law on the basis that the law would disproportionately affect Hispanics and that it violates the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The law would have required all Texas voters to show some form of photo ID before voting. This past December, the Justice Department blocked a similar law in South Carolina, saying it adversely affected African-American voters.
The controversy over these laws is far from over. Both South Carolina and Texas have filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Washington arguing in favor of their new voting laws, and they will take their cases to the Supreme Court if necessary.
A record number 37 states are holding gubernatorial races this election year. With 17 of those races looking to upend the incumbent party, more seats could change hands than ever before in history. Jobs and the economy are on the top of the agenda everywhere, but that isn't the only reason the governor's races will affect politics well beyond their own borders. In 2011, the states will remap their voting districts and in most places, governors have redistricting veto power.