clock menu more-arrow no yes

What is the fight over voting rights about?

The fight over voting rights is a highly partisan battle over how voting ought to work and which regulations are needed to make sure voting is accessible and fair.

This fight heated up after the 2010 midterm elections, when many state legislatures with new Republican majorities passed laws establishing new voting restrictions, including measures that limited absentee, early, or Sunday voting, and laws requiring that people show identification before casting a ballot. Various groups have challenged these laws in court.

Most of the legal battles over these voting restrictions involve the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was designed to get rid of state and local laws that made it difficult or impossible for African Americans to vote. A 2013 Supreme Court case, Shelby County v. Holder, struck down part of the Voting Rights Act. That made it tougher for the federal government to enforce the act, and cleared the way for another new wave of state and local voting restrictions. While none of the new laws — for example, photo identification requirements — explicitly discriminate against any group, civil rights advocates argue that they create hurdles that indirectly keep poor people, senior citizens, and people of color from voting.

The fight over voting rights also includes grassroots efforts to lift state-level voting restrictions. And there have been bipartisan efforts by members of Congress to pass laws that would fill in the holes the Shelby decision left in the VRA’s protections.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for The Weeds

Get our essential policy newsletter delivered Fridays.