Following the Supreme Court striking down the Voting Rights Act of 1965 last year, equal access to the ballot box is still one of the Justice Department’s “highest priorities,” a top official said Wednesday.
“The right to vote is one of the most fundamental promises of our democracy,” U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mark Kappelhoff told the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva.
“While the U.S. Supreme Court recently invalidated a part of this cornerstone civil rights law, we continue to use every legal tool available to take swift action against jurisdictions that have hindered equal access to the franchise,” he said.
The department’s Civil Rights Division is currently challenging state election laws in North Carolina and Texas, Mr. Kappelhoff said.
Last year the Supreme Court split down party lines and decided 5-4 to overturn large parts of the Voting Rights Act. Supporters say it frees states from burdensome federal meddling into elections, while opponents contend it will allow states to control who votes and keep minorities away from polling places.