States throughout the American South have closed practically 1,200 polling places since the Supreme Court weakened a milestone voting-discrimination law in 2013, based in a report released by a civil-rights group Tuesday.
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights found that states with a historical past of racial discrimination have shuttered hundreds of voting places since the court ordered that they didn’t need federal approval to alter their laws. The report didn’t have comparisons with polling locations in other areas.
The report comes as Republican-led states impose a range of other constraints, from shorter voting hours to photo-ID requirements. As turnout has surged in recent elections, voters in cities like Phoenix and Atlanta have endured hours-long waits to cast their votes.
Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, areas with a history of voting bias – including requiring African American or Hispanic electors to pay a ballot tax or pass a literacy test – had to first convince the U.S. Justice Division or a federal court that any election modifications they wished to make wouldn’t have had a discriminatory effect. The Supreme Court slashed that portion of the law in 2013.
The law covered a swath of southern states from Virginia to Texas, including Arizona, Alaska and a few counties in states like New York, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, California, and South Dakota.
Voters in many U.S. states can now mail in their votes or ballot in person before Election Day. However, most still cast their ballots in person in 2018’s election, as they did in 2012, based on the numbers gathered by the Election Assistance Committee.