Election Law Blog

A Expansion of Bail-in
Expanded the conditions under which a court could require a jurisdiction be subjected to the Act's preclearance requirements to include federal voting rights laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. 

Revised Coverage Formula
Statewide application of preclearance is triggered when 5 or more “voting rights violations” occur in a state during the previous 15 years. The state must have committed at least one of the violations as opposed to a subdivision within the state.

Political subdivisions within a state trigger preclearance if 3 or more “voting rights violations” occurred in the subdivision during the previous 15 years or at least one violation occurred during the 15 yr period coupled with “persistent, extremely low minority turnout” during the same period.

Time Period for Preclearance
Preclearance begins on January 1 of the calendar year that it is triggered and concludes on January 1 in the year that is 10 years after the most recent voting rights violation occurring in the covered jurisdiction. States may end preclearance during the 10 year period by obtaining a declaratory judgment  that remains in effect. Subsequent voting rights violations would trigger preclearance however.

Political subdivisions within states can similarly obtain a declaratory judgment regardless of whether preclearance applies statewide or specifically to the subdivision. Subsequent voting rights violations, including the provisions concerning extremely low minority voter turnout, will trigger preclearance again in the same manner as with states.

Voting Rights Violations Defined
A voting rights violation includes:

Violations of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th or 15th amendment stemming from a state or subdivision’s denial or abridgement of the right of a citizen to vote on account of race, color, or language minority group. A violation occurs upon final judgment of any U.S. court.

Violations of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act or any voting practice imposed or that would have been applied resulting in the denial or abridgement of the right of a citizen to vote on account of race, color, or language minority group. A violation occurs upon final judgment of any U.S. court.

Denials by a court of any request for a declaratory judgment by jurisdictions either bailed-in to preclearance of statutorily required to preclear voting changes.

Where a court has not objected to or overturned an Attorney General objection filed in court preclearance proceedings under section 5 of the VRA or under its bail-in provisions.

“Persistent, Extremely Low Minority Turnout” Defined
In a political subdivision, in a majority of presidential elections over the past 15 calendar years, minority turnout was below:

  • The minority turnout rate for the country
  • The non-minority turnout rate for the country
  • The minority turnout rate for the state in which it is located
  • The non-minority turnout rate for the state in which it is located
  • The non-minority turnout rate for the political subdivision and the average minority turnout rate across all such elections in the subdivision is more than 10 percentage points below the average non-minority rate for the entire country.


In a political subdivision, in a majority of federal elections over the past 15 calendar years, minority turnout was below:

  • The minority turnout rate for the state in which it is located
  • The non-minority turnout rate for the state in which it is located
  • The non-minority turnout rate for the political subdivision and the average minority turnout rate across all such elections in the subdivision is more than 10 percentage points below the average non-minority rate for the state in which it is located.


 

 

  • In June 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated application of the formula used to determine which states and local jurisdictions are covered under the preclearance requirements of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.


  • The VRAA was introduced in congress to update the coverage formula.


The Basics

Law

Process

Quarterly Wrap Up

Video

Proposed Voting Rights Act Amendment (VRAA) Synopsis

Learning Materials

Links

Blog

Features