by Max Brantley
Jonathan Martin in the New York Times writes that the inexorable tide of demographics ultimately spells defeat for the Solid South's use of Republican vote suppression tactics to preserve the old order of things. It's a glimmer of bright light in yesterday's activist U.S. Supreme Court ruling to gut the Voting Rights Act.
But massive resistance never really quit in the South. Still, writes Martin:
The states with the highest growth in the Latino population over the last decade are in the South, which is also absorbing an influx of people of all races moving in from other parts of the country.
While most experts expect battles over voting restrictions in the coming years, they say that ultimately those efforts cannot hold back the wave of change that will bring about a multiethnic South.
“All the voter suppression measures in the world aren’t going to be enough to eventually stem this rising tide,” said Representative David E. Price, a veteran North Carolina Democrat and a political scientist by training.
As the region continues to change, Republicans who control legislatures in the South will confront a basic question: how to retain political power when the demographics are no longer on your side.
Voter gimmickry will continue. Limitations on voting hours. Bars, such as Voter ID, to easy ballot access. Longer lines from few and understaffed polling places in big minority neighborhoods. Gerrymandering. Arkansas's new Republican majority is already busily at work to erect an obstacle course to the vote. But voters aren't stupid. They'll reward such tactics with disfavor.
In time, birth rates will out. Arkansas, however, though also enjoying a rapidly growing Latino sector, still remains far behind the Southern curve in black and brown residents. So, in keeping with custom, sea change will come last here, just as it did with the red tide.
Arkansas has always lagged in voting, for which bipartisan blame can be laid. The graphic below in the New York Times shows those voter jurisdictions with turnout below 50 percent in 2012. Solid Arkansas.