Spencer Overton

Spencer Overton is a professor of law at The George Washington University Law School and a Senior Fellow at Demos. He is a former principal deputy assistant attorney general for legal policy at the U.S. Department of Justice, and the author of Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression.

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 The Court ruled that the formula used to determine which jurisdictions needed to get preclearance was outdated and unconstitutional.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-...