868 polling places were reportedly closed (nearly half of the counties that closed polling places would have been prevented from doing so if Section 5 the Voting Rights Act had not been neutralized), over 75% of polling places were inaccessible to voters with disabilities, 31 states adopted voter id restrictions…
Taken together these sound pretty damning but when you look at each of them, the argument has major cracks in it.
The claim that half of the counties that closed polling places would have been prevented from doing so is complete conjecture. No one knows what would have happened.
Those counties would have required Federal pre-clearance before closing a polling place but the DoJ had approved polling location changes on average of 2,640 times per year between 1965 and 2013 (the time period that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was in effect.) So compare that to an average of 290 closures/year since then.
The 75% of polling places being inaccessible sounds inexcusable but that number traces back to a 2013 GAO report that is citing numbers from their previous 2009 report. That 2009 report looked at accessibility for the 2008 elections and it was a follow-up to their 2001 report that looked at the 2000 election. We have no idea what the numbers look like for any election after 2008 because the GAO hasn’t done any additional follow-up.
So to be clear here, the 2001 report showed that only 16% of voting locations were 100% accessible. The 2009 report showed that the number of locations that were 100% accessible had increased to 27%.
How does increasing ballot access demonstrate an attempt to suppress the vote?
And when you break down the 31 States that have voter ID restrictions, 14 of them had voter ID requirements in place prior to 2000. Of the remaining 16, 5 were implemented in “Blue States” (CT, DE, RI, WA and HI). Of the 11 implemented in “Red States” (And I’m including NH as a red state since their legislature is dominated by Republicans even though their Governor was a Democrat at the time it was passed and the overall State has voted Blue for the last 3 elections.), 8 were what are called “Strict-photo ID requirements”. 3 of those 8 were shot down by courts (2 State level courts , 1 Federal court) and 3 were approved by Federal courts. The other two had laws that mirrored the laws that had been approved by Federal courts.
Only 4 Voter ID requirement changes came after Section 5 of the VRA was thrown out and one of those (NC) made their law weaker.