Spencer Overton

Spencer Overton is a professor of law at George Washington University and former principal deputy assistant attorney general for legal policy at the U.S. Department of Justice. He is the author of Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression, and president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank founded in 1970 that supports elected officials and policy experts who serve communities of color.

Recent Articles

Against a "Post-Racial" Voting Rights Act

Flickr/Elise Brown
Flickr/Elise Brown I n June, five Supreme Court Justices rolled back the Voting Rights Act, widely considered the most effective tool in preventing discrimination in our nation's history. Section 5 of the act required that certain states and localities "preclear" proposed election changes with federal officials to ensure the changes were not discriminatory. The Court ruled that the formula used to determine which jurisdictions needed to get preclearance was outdated and unconstitutional. For those of us who care about voting rights, the question now is how do we respond? Some have argued that Congress should update the Voting Rights Act by passing ambitious election reforms. Such proposals include mandating shorter voting lines, making registration more convenient, and passing less restrictive identification requirements. For example, Sam Issacharoff and Richard Pildes—both New York University law professors who advised the Obama campaign—argue that we should look beyond the race-...