Protecting the Vote

02
Apr

Protecting the Vote

The 2013 Supreme Court Decision in Shelby County v. Holder has raised concern about whether minorities’ voting rights will continue to be protected. The 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) specifically addresses states’ responsibilities in ensuring fair voting practices.  The VRA denounces standard practices that prevent people of color from enjoying their civil right to vote. In Shelby County, the Supreme Court heldthat VRA Section 4’s preclearance formula is outdated.  This formula is used to determine whether a jurisdiction known to have unfair election practices must obtain authorization from the government.  The Supreme Court encourages Congress to establish a new formula that addresses current needs.  The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights notes in its publication “Voting Rights Barriers and Discrimination in Twenty-First Century California: 2000-2013” that unfair election practices cannot be addressed proactively without a preclearance formula in place to identify which states must be monitored because of their history of unfair election practices.

To address this problem, Representatives of Congress presented the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 indicating states and jurisdictions that have violated the VRA in the past 15 years must obtain a preclearance from the government to implement new election rules.

Patrice Garnette, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, The George Washington University Law School

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