Republicans oppose both Democratic bills, but party leaders vowed to continue trying to pass them through summer through fall. Progressives in particular took Thursday’s decision as yet another data point to put up in their battle to eliminate the Senate filibuster so their party can bypass Republicans and pass the bills by simple majority.
At least 22 new laws have been passed in 14 states since the November election, imposing new election restrictions, alarming Democrats and constituencies who say the measures threaten one of the pillars of democracy. So far, the Democrats have little choice but to get states like Georgia, Florida, and Iowa to pass new laws other than filing lawsuits and launching aggressive voter education campaigns.
The two provisions of Arizona law that formed the core of the Supreme Court decision on Thursday were increasingly frequent voting restrictions that have surfaced in other states. A law banned third parties from assisting voters with postal ballot papers, a process Republicans derisively refer to as “voting” but which is designed to help elderly, sick, or otherwise disabled voters handle their ballot papers. The other law cancels all votes cast personally in the wrong district.
According to a database run by the Voting Rights Lab, a liberal-minded constituency, at least 22 states have enacted or introduced laws restricting voting. And one of the provisions of Georgian law would prohibit any voter from provisional voting in the wrong district before 5 p.m.
Previous Supreme Court rulings on electoral laws were often followed by hasty laws that were worked out in light of the rulings. After the court upheld an Indiana voter identification bill in 2008, numerous other states, including North Carolina, Texas, and Pennsylvania, attempted to pass similar laws.
Jen Jordan, a Georgia state senator seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general, said Thursday’s ruling would make it harder to raise legal challenges against the state’s new electoral law known as SB 202 because it would be necessary to prove that Georgia Republicans intended to make voting more difficult for people of color rather than the effect of the new law.
“It is very difficult to get enough evidence or appropriate evidence to show real intent,” she said, “and that seems like the only way to do it now under the VRA.”