Federal and state courts late last week took three more steps in extending voting rights this summer to thousands of disenfranchised citizens, a continuation of recent positive judicial results that is making U.S. democracy great again.
Topping the heap was a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision on Friday that condemned a North Carolina effort to suppress African American voter turnout. The ruling rejected a state requirement that voters present photo identification at the polls and reinstated the ability of voters to register on Election Day. It also restored the ability of young people to register to vote before they turned 18, as well as early voting.
The court found that they decision of the state’s Republican Legislature and Gov. Pat McCrory (R) was motivated by politics – and to protect their own self interests. “In North Carolina, restriction of voting mechanisms and procedures that most heavily affect African Americans will predictably redound to the benefit of one political party and to the disadvantage of the other,” it wrote. “As the evidence in the record makes clear, that is what happened here.”
Victory, however, was not limited to North Carolina. A U.S. district judge there nixed parts of the state’s voter suppression law as well as efforts to curb early and weekend voting as well. The judge also rejected rules dealing with residency requirements and voter eligibility for college students.
And in Kansas, a Shawnee County judge blocked an effort to stop people who registered using federal forms from being able to vote in state and local races. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had begun requiring proof of citizenship on state forms, which had the effect of creating a two-tiered registration system.
The rulings came on the heels of two similar dramatic decisions a week earlier, where federal judges took aim at restrictive voting rules in Texas and Wisconsin as well.
Taken together, these decisions are good for everyday Americans who are entitled participate in the electoral process. But just as importantly, they uphold the ideals that thousands in this country have fought and died for all across the globe. This nation is stronger when everyone has their voice heard.