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In the United States, state governments have targeted Black and other disadvantaged voters through a combination of policies meant to increase challenges related to casting a ballot. These challenges have resulted in low voter turnout that impacts the ability of our democracy to function successfully. The Voting Rights Act (VRA) passed in 1965 was intended to remedy this discrimination and ensure equal voting access. Though it has been successful at increasing the voting rates of people of color, the Supreme Court’s Shelby v. Holder (2013) decision struck down Section 5 of the VRA. Section 5 provided a formula that the Justice Department used to require certain states with histories of passing discriminatory voting legislation to receive preclearance from the federal government before pursuing new voting reforms. For this paper, we specifically look at Black voter turnout between 2008-2018 in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia to analyze how voting restrictions have affected voting trends. Undertaking an analysis of voting restrictions enacted in the aftermath of Shelby v. Holder (2013), and the extent of their impact on Black voter turnout in the United States, requires the establishment of evaluation criteria necessary for the comparison of policy alternatives. With our primary aim to rectify this problem and prompt an increase in voter turnout within the Black community, we have set effectiveness, equity, and political viability as the three evaluation criteria that guide our suggestions for policy alternatives. In alignment with these criteria, we propose three recommendations for feasible policy alternatives: Status Quo, Modifying the Voting Rights Act, and Federalizing the U.S. Election Administration System. Based on this analysis of our recommended policy alternatives and our corresponding evaluation criteria, we conclude that our second policy alternative, ‘Modifying the Voting Rights Act’, best fulfills our outlined standards.



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Policy Analysis: Black Voter Turnout after Shelby v. Holder