The Supreme Court’s impact on voting rights, in two maps

November 1, 2013

It’s only been four months since the Supreme Court ruled, in Shelby County v. Holder, that a critical section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional. But in that short period, 16 states have taken steps to tighten voter rules.

Some of those states have imposed requirements that voters show a government-issued identification when they get to the polls. Others have curtailed the number of early voting days, or purged voters from their rolls using databases that critics say are riddled with errors.

Pro Publica, the nonprofit dedicated to investigative journalism, put together two startling maps that show just where voting rules have changed. Here’s how restrictive states were before Shelby County v. Holder:


And here’s what the map looks like after the 5-4 decision:


“Nearly 50 years [after the VRA passed], things have changed dramatically,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. Whether these steps are aimed at cutting down fraud, as Republicans argue, or disenfranchising voters, as Democrats claim, there’s no getting around the fact that voting laws have changed more in the past four months than in the decade before the Supreme Court ruled.

See the Pro Publica report here.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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