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The United States Supreme Court effectively dismantled the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, AL v. Holder (2013). The majority asserts that “times have changed” and the relevant provisions of the VRA are now obsolete. This paper examines whether dismantling preclearance adversely affects how long racial and ethnic voters must wait to vote. The results show that the VRA reduces the time minority voters waited in line by one-half in the covered jurisdictions. After preclearance is dismantled, however, that benefit vanishes. Further, minority voters in covered jurisdictions continue to wait longer to vote compared to white voters and that increment reduces their turnout in small but potentially consequential amounts. We argue that dismantling Section 5 creates an environment where inconvenient voting requirements are now acceptable. Fundamentally, when citizens are not treated similarly with regard to democratic practices such as voting then the country’s democratic culture is threatened.


The National Review of Black Politics (NRBP) is a refereed, international, and interdisciplinary quarterly journal of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, continuing the scholarly legacy of National Political Science Review, which had been published continually from 1989-2019.

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The National Review of Black Politics (NRBP)