In Texas, Michigan, North Carolina and elsewhere, federal courts in recent months have struck down one discriminatory voting law after another in a series of major victories for voting-rights advocates. Millions of voters, especially minorities who might have otherwise been obstructed by voter-identification requirements or shortened early voting times, will now be able to cast their ballots in the presidential election.
But these victories, though significant and hard-won, concern only major state-level voting laws. They obscure a more pernicious problem: In towns, cities and counties across the country — particularly throughout the Deep South — many discriminatory voting changes have been made at more local levels. Because officials don’t always have to give notice in advance about such changes, voters may learn of them only when they show up at the polls.