USC Social Science Research Supports the Need for Federal Oversight of Voting Laws in the South

February 26, 2013

USC experts can discuss what a Supreme Court ruling could mean for voter ID laws and race.

Purging voter rolls and voter ID laws were a hot issue in the last presidential election. Now, they’ll be discussed again as the Supreme Court decides whether to remove federal oversight from a group of largely southern states, where experts say racially polarized attitudes still determine voter access.

Since 1965, voting law changes throughout 10 southern states (as well as parts of New York City, California and Alaska) required approval by the federal government. On Wednesday, Feb. 27, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Shelby County vs. Holder, in which representatives of Shelby County, Ala. will argue the federal oversight provision of the Voting Rights Act is no longer needed.

Jane Junn of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, an expert on public opinion polling and voter demographics, is one of several experts supporting the federal oversight provision. She has co-authored a new brief on the case, which includes extensive research on why it’s still needed.

“There are measures of racially polarized voting and racial attitudes, people who think blacks or Latinos have too much influence in politics, and more. What we’ve done here is provide systematic social science data not only at the state level, but at the individual level, showing that Section 5 states still need to be policed. Shelby County’s argument is there is no more problem there anymore. We’re saying, yes, there is still a problem.”

Contact: or 908-399-6186.

Jody Armour of the USC Gould School of Law can also comment on how race and voting access will be affected by Shelby County vs. Holder.

Contact: or 323-573-0444.

Contact: Andrew Good at or 213-740-8606.