Davis, a former black caucus member who seconded President Barack Obama’s nomination at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and unsuccessfully ran for governor of Alabama in 2010, announced that he’s switching to the Republican Party and is considering running for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in Virginia.
In Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican who’s often mentioned as a potential vice-presidential candidate, recently signed an order making state IDs available for free as a way of mitigating any vote-suppressing effects of his state’s ID law.
Many Southern states are particularly sensitive to accusations of vote suppression, as many still face federal regulation under the Voting Rights Act. The Justice Department recently rejected photo ID laws in South Carolina and Texas as discriminatory, and it’s reviewing Florida’s new voter laws. South Carolina and Texas have taken their cases to a U.S. District Court panel in Washington.
Holder told the clergy leaders Wednesday that at least nine lawsuits have been filed over the last two years challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the act – which requires states with a history of racial discrimination to get federal approval for changes in their voting procedures – and arguing that it’s no longer needed because the states under it have made great strides in ensuring that voting access is fair and nondiscriminatory.
“I wish this were the case,” Holder said. “But the reality is that, in jurisdictions across the country, both overt and subtle forms of discrimination remain all too common – and have not yet been relegated to the pages of history.”