Politics

Democrats Brace for a Narrower Path to Challenge New Voting Laws

The two provisions of Arizona law at the core of the Supreme Court decision on Thursday were increasingly common restrictions on voting that have appeared in other states. One law banned third parties from helping voters in dropping off their absentee ballots, a process Republicans derisively refer to as “ballot harvesting” but that is designed to help older, sick or otherwise disabled voters with handling their ballot. The other law canceled all votes cast in person at the wrong precinct.

At least 22 states have passed or introduced a law restricting ballot collections, according to a database maintained by the Voting Rights Lab, a liberal-leaning voting rights group. And one of the provisions in Georgia’s law would bar any voter from being allowed to vote provisionally at the wrong precinct before 5 p.m.

Rushes of similar legislation have followed Supreme Court rulings on voting laws in the past. After the Court upheld an Indiana voter identification law in 2008, numerous other states, including North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania, sought to pass similar laws.

Jen Jordan, a Georgia state senator who is seeking the Democratic nomination for state attorney general, said the ruling on Thursday would make it more difficult to bring legal challenges against the state’s new voting law, known as S. B. 202, because it would be necessary to prove that Georgia Republicans intended to make it harder for people of color to vote, rather than that being the effect of the new law.

“It’s very difficult to gather enough evidence or appropriate evidence to show actual intent,” she said, “and that seems like the only way you can do it now under the V.R.A.”

Even as some voting rights groups noted that it was not a worst-case scenario ruling, Democrats around the country were quick to deride the decision by the Supreme Court, which broke down along the court’s 6-3 ideological divide, and vowed to redouble their efforts to pass federal voting legislation.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision reinforces what we already know: Voting rights are under assault in America and we must act with the fierce urgency of now to end the era of voter suppression once and for all,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat who is the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

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