Some have used the debate about updating the Voting Rights Act as an opportunity to argue that Congress should “look beyond” measures that prevent race discrimination, and should instead enact race-neutral general election reform (e.g., shorter lines, easier registration, less-restrictive ID).
They are wrong. Discrimination persists, and general election reform would fail to stop much of it—especially in local elections. An election reform bill would also polarize the debate in Congress, and undermine any chance for bipartisan consensus in updating the Voting Rights Act. I personally support election reforms that expand access–and agree they should be pushed in state legislatures. For now, however, Congress should focus on preventing voting discrimination in updating the Voting Rights Act—not general election reforms.