For more than 50 years, federal personnel have kept an eye out for voter suppression in the states. Justice Department officials announced Monday that this year, more than 500 federal officials will be deployed to monitor polling sites across 28 states when Americans cast their ballots on Nov. 8.
Though it might sound like a lot of federal oversight, there will be roughly one-third fewer poll monitors and observers this year than there were during the 2012 presidential election. It’s one of many changes that spring from a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a key section of the Voting Rights Act. The decision in Shelby County v. Holder makes this the first presidential election since the law’s passage in 1965 in which voters won’t enjoy the act’s full protections against discrimination—and that makes advocates nervous.