With unseemly haste following the Supreme Court’s recent nullification of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, Mississippi’s Secretary of State has moved to enforce a new voter identification law that will suppress the vote of African Americans in my home state.
Within hours of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, in an email captioned, “This chapter is closed,” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann trumpeted the court’s holding that Mississippi need no longer seek U. S. Justice Department pre-clearance for changes to its voting laws. “Mississippi citizens have earned the right to determine our voting processes,” he said, even as he announced that the process for implementing the voter ID law “begins today.”
Just a few days later, I received Hosemann’s letter informing me that he intends to finalize his draft regulations to implement the law on August 1.
Mississippi is not alone. Mississippi, Texas, Alabama and other mostly Deep South jurisdictions were — until the ruling in Shelby — covered by the Voting Rights Act’s buffer against voter suppression schemes that, back in the day, included poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, these jurisdictions are in a mad rush to implement current versions of voter suppression — strong testament to the folly of the Supreme Court’s decision.