Project Wonderful

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Update: Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014

When I wrote about the Supreme Court's decision to strip Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act Shelby County v. Holder last year, I noted that preclearance could return if Congress could approve a more updated formula that reflected modern mechanisms and history of voter suppression. As you may remember, Section 5 required that certain jurisdictions have any changes in voting laws "precleared" by the Department of Justice or a three-judge panel in DC. Section 4 outlined the criteria under which states and municipalities were subject to Section 5. Shelby v. Holder struck down Section 5 under the assertion that the formula in Section 4 was outdated and unfairly treated some states differently than others. Preclearance was one of the most important facets of the Voting Rights Act because it shifted the burden of proof from disenfranchised citizens on to the states and jurisdictions that disenfranchise them.

A year after the landmark (and deeply upsetting) decision, voting rights advocates led by Democrat (and Batman enthusiast) Senator Patrick Leahy are working to revise the formula in order to restore the teeth to the VRA. S.1945 or the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 amends the criteria for which states and jurisdictions that would be covered under Section 5. You can read the details here, but the gist is that the formula would include states and municipalities with a substantial history of voting rights violations over the course of the previous 15 years.

Unsurprisingly, like almost everything else good that could possibly happen in Congress, the bill is stalled in the house.

For more Section 5 on CampaignSick click here and here.

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