The U.S. Supreme Court is striking down on part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that requires states, mostly in the South, to submit election plans to the federal government.
The provision was designed to protect minority voters.
In a 5-4 vote, the justices ruled that Congress come up with a new plan to determine which states may still need to get federal approval before changing their laws.
Shelby County, Alabama brought the case arguing the South has changed in the last 50 years, and the law is outdated.
For the last six months, civil rights groups have been defending the Voting Rights Act through marches and rallies hoping the Supreme Court would protect the law.
"It's just like someone reached their hand in here and took my heart out," says Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma.
Sanders, who led many of the marches, is devastated. He says the U.S. Supreme Court ignored history, and this ruling will effect millions of minority voters.
"This is a destructive decision. It has all kinds of implications," he says. "I think we have to rally in every way we can to fight this."
But Governor Robert Bentley disagrees. He says there was a reason the voting rights act passed 48 years ago. But today, he says our state has overcome discrimination.
"In the House of Representatives and Senate, we have 27% representation in this state of African Americans. That's probably better than any other state in the country," he says.
State Secretary Beth Chapman says now, Alabama will not have to seek federal approval for the new photo voter I.D. law. It will go into effect in the 2014 primaries.
"My office will be releasing administrative rules within the next three days," Chapman says. "We have been prepared for this. We have been planning for this for months."
It's now up to the U.S. Congress to determine a new formula and choose which parts of the country must get federal approval for election changes.
'"Let me be clear. I do not believe Alabama should be included under any new coverage formula that Congress might adopt," says Attorney General Luther Strange.
"Given the state of congress these days, almost nothing passes,," says Sanders. "The likelihood that Congress will quickly pass another provision is simply not good."
President Obama said he was disappointed with the court's decision. The president said "it upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent."