A New Approach to Voter ID Challenges: Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act
Kathleen M. Stoughton · January 2013
81 GEO. WASH. L. REV. 292 (2013)
In response to growing concerns about the integrity of the electoral process, state legislatures across the country have adopted voter ID laws, which require voters to present a qualifying form of identification before casting a ballot in person. By late 2012, nine states had passed strict voter ID laws requiring those voting in person to present a valid, government-issued photo ID. These laws disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters, who are much more likely than their white counterparts to lack a valid ID.
There are no constitutional remedies available, as the Supreme Court has upheld voter ID laws against facial constitutional challenges, and as-applied constitutional challenges are not a feasible method of challenging laws with such a widespread effect. Although section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 can keep discriminatory voter ID laws from being enacted in a limited number of jurisdictions, the Supreme Court has expressed skepticism about the provision’s continued constitutionality. This Note argues that a remedy can be found in section 2 of the Voting Rights Act: plaintiffs can challenge strict voter ID laws by showing that they so disproportionately affect minority voters that they dilute the vote of the minority group as a whole, effectively abridging the right to vote on account of race or color in violation of the Voting Rights Act.