In an interesting decision — typical of the Court’s recent split-the-baby approach — the Supreme Court left the Voting Rights Act intact, but forced Congress to update it.
Section 5 of the VRA requires that certain “covered jurisdictions” have to get federal pre-clearance before making any changes to their voting laws (down to things like the locations of polling places). Section 4 of the Act contains a “coverage formula” that determines which jurisdictions are covered — basically 9 states and a handful of counties are covered and have been since the 1960s (with a slight tweak in the early 70s).
In its decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the Court did not strike down Section 5, but did strike down Section 4. So Congress can still force states or counties to pre-clear election law changes, but Congress first has to rewrite the coverage formula to reflect 2013, rather than 1965. The Court’s reasoning is based on the VRA’s invasion of state sovereignty