All this week The Takeaway is taking you on a guided tour of states that have started to change their voting laws since the Supreme Court issued a decision in the case Shelby County Vs. Holder last June.
At the heart of the case were two provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965—Section 5, which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices, and Section 4, which contains the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting. Both were found to be unconstitutional by the court in a 5-4 decision.
Texas wasted no time changing its laws in the wake of the Court's ruling. Just one day after the Supreme Court's decision, Governor Rick Perry signed into law new court-drawn congressional maps and a new voter identification law.
The Obama administration has responded by asking a federal court in Texas to restore the preclearance requirement—the White House cited the state’s recent history with discriminatory voting laws, in addition to a different part of the Voting Rights Act.
Kate McGee is a reporter at KUT in Austin. She says that the battle over redistricting in Texas began years before the Supreme Court's decision this summer. She joins The Takeaway to discuss the motivation behind these laws and the state's response.