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Thursday, October 27, 2016

by Suevon Lee, ProPublica


A single provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been playing a key role on the election front this year. Section 5 has blocked photo voter-ID laws, prohibited reduced early-voting periods in parts of Florida and just Tuesday barred new redistricting maps in Texas.

It’s the reason South Carolina is in federal court this week to try to convince a three-judge panel its photo voter-ID law will not disenfranchise minorities. It’s the reason that Texas went to trial on the same issue last month — and on Thursday, lost.

Not surprisingly, then, Section 5 is increasingly the target of attack by those who say it is outdated, discriminatory against Southern states and unconstitutional.

Under the provision, certain states and localities with a history of anti-minority election practices must obtain federal approval or “preclearance” before making changes to voting laws. In present day, that requirement is burdensome, “needlessly aggressive” and based on outdated coverage criteria, two petitions filed in July with the U.S. Supreme Court argue.

Section 5 applies to nine states — Texas, South Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Virginia and Alaska — and currently to parts of Florida, California, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Michigan and New Hampshire. The original coverage formula looked at whether states imposed unfair devices like literacy tests in November 1964, whether less than 50 percent of the voting-age population was registered to vote as of that date, or if less than 50 percent of eligible voters voted in the November 1964 presidential election. In 1975, the formula expanded to include jurisdictions that provided election materials only in English when members of a language minority made up more than 5 percent of voting-age citizens.

Momentum is building at the highest levels to narrow or even eliminate this provision. In a 2009 majority opinion to a Section 5 challenge from Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 in Texas, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that preclearance and the coverage formula “raise serious constitutional questions,” though the justices didn’t settle them at the time. In January, in a separate concurrence to the judgment in the Texas redistricting case, Justice Clarence Thomas stated that Section 5 is unconstitutional (for more on how that case reached the Supreme Court, see our previous explainer).

Shelby County in Alabama and several citizens of Kinston, N.C., have asked the Court to review the constitutionality of Section 5 during this fall’s term.

Last week, six states covered under Section 5 filed an amicus brief to the Shelby County petition, citing the time and cost of seeking preclearance and a voting landscape that’s shed its racist past. Several former Justice Department officials, all of whom served in past Republican administrations, cite in another amicus brief the disparate impact the provision has on the states.

So, could this Civil Rights-era provision soon be on its way out the door? As early as 2009, UC-Irvine law professor Rick Hasen laid out a scenario under which that could happen. But the prospects remain murky.

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  • William Deutschlander

    Just because the AUTOCRATIC REPUBLICANS in Pennsylvania want to make voting much more difficult for the poor, the disabled and the elderly, you can not use that logic to disenfranchise the ability to vote throughout the nation.
    To QUOTE the REPUBLICAN LEADER in Pennsylvania, ” voter I D done, now Romney will win Pennsylvania “, VOTER SUPPRESION AT IT’S FINEST!

  • seems we need it to remain more than we needed it to begin with. If it was not doing its job of keeping them from suppressing voter rights they OBVIOUSLY would not try to remove it. BUT it is doing the job in stopping their mean spirited agenda so they want it gone.

  • ObozoMustGo

    When did your home become part of your health care?

    I thought you might find this interesting, — maybe even SICKENING! The National Association of Realtors is all over this and working to get it repealed, — before it takes effect. But, I am very pleased we aren’t the only ones who know about this ploy to steal billions from unsuspecting homeowners. How many realtors do you think will vote Democratic in 2012 ? Did you know that if you sell your house after 2012 you will pay a
    3.8% sales tax on it? That’s $3,800 on a $100,000 home, etc . When did this happen? It’s in the health care bill, — and it goes into effect in 2013. Why 2013? Could it be so that it doesn’t come to light until after the 2012 elections? So, this is ‘change you can believe in’? Under the new health care bill all real estate transactions will be subject to a 3.8% sales tax . If you sell a $400,000 home, there will be a $15,200 tax . This bill is set to screw the retiring generation, — who often downsize their homes. Does this make your November, 2012 vote more important? Oh, you weren’t aware that this was in the Obama Care bill? Guess what; you aren’t alone! There are more than a few members of Congress that weren’t aware of it either.

    Have a nice day!

    “I don’t think your boss should get to control the health care you get. I don’t think insurance companies should control the care that you get. I don’t think politicians should control the care that you get. I think there’s one person to make these decisions on health care and that is you.” – Guess who said it

    • jcbsdriver

      This post is on every page. I responded and asked questions about this and I’m not getting an answer. I think this is misleading and planted info.

      • Landsende

        Anyone can post allegations but unless they can back them up with facts it’s just a bunch of BS.

    • The republiconmen are so desperate they are saying and doing everything they can including lies, deceptions and paying people to post this obvious propaganda online. Republiconmen should be ashamed of themselves for supporting criminal republiconmen politicians who are doing what bin laden could not do, bring down america from within financially. Do your duty for God and country by slapping the ^%$& out of a republiconman today!!!

    • OMG, the 3.8% tax increase on UNEARNED INCOME will affect only individuals making more than $200K and families earning more than $250K a year. It does not affect middle class or poor Americans and does not affect business.

      • DurdyDawg

        Never the less…

    • The Medicare tax will be imposed ONLY on individuals with an income above $200k and couples with a joint income more than @20k, which excludes about 97% of all US households.
      The tax will not be assessed on every house sale, but only on sales that produce profits over a certain amount.’$Say a couple with an income of $325k bought a house in ’04 for $300k, and resold it in 2013 for $850k. The profit is $550k, but they get to exclude $500k for the sale of their principal residence. So the taxable gain is $50k, and their taxable income is now $375k. The medicare tax applies to the LESSER of:
      ~a. their income over $250k, or $125k
      ~b. the taxable income from the sale of the home, or $50k
      Therefore they pay the tax on $50k which amounts to $1,900.
      It’s not a tax on all real estate sales, it is an investment income tax which could result in a very small percentage of home sellers paying additional taxes on home sales profits over the threshold amount.

      • ObozoMustGo

        anna… read the rest of the thread…

        [click image to enlarge]

        Have a nice day!

        “Fathom the hypocrisy of a Government that requires every citizen to prove they are insured … but not prove they are a citizen.” – Ben Stein

  • I dunno why the courts and the media aren’t making a big deal about the recently-released findings of an exhaustive study done by the Conservative Knight and Concordia Foundations…you may have heard about this…the foundations were looking to find proof of “widespread voter impersonation”, the problem that photo voter ID solves, among elections in the United States in the past dozen years (2000-2011). The study went through over 600 million votes in this country over that period of time. Out of all of those votes cast, there were only 2,086 cases of voter fraud (all kinds, not just voter impersonation) alleged. Out of those few cases of voter fraud alleged, only 10 cases of ACTUAL VOTER IMPERSONATION WERE PROVED! TEN! If you want to know what percentage of actual voter impersonation was, try .00000165%! The fact that these CONSERVATIVE FOUNDATIONS couldn’t find more than 10 cases of ACTUAL VOTER IMPERSONATION within more than 600 million votes over the last dozen years invalidates the GOP’s ridiculous “widespread voter impersonation” claim. With that fact, the voter ID laws are simply what we thought they were/are: Democratic voter suppression tools. Sorry, GOP….you’ve been exposed for yet more corruption. But, to their dying days, the GOP will insist that there’s “widespread voter impersonation”, just as they’ve tried to pass “backdoor” abortion bans (not banning abortion specifically, just making it nearly impossible to get one, which serves the same purpose) for nearly four decades after Roe v. Wade.
    As far as Section 5 goes, the Democratic voter suppression tools the GOP are trying to employ prove that Section 5 is still needed; one of the eight cornerstones of the GOP’s two lunatic factions, the Conservative Wrong-Wing Nut Jobs and Tea Party Militia members, is bigotry. These voter ID laws are proof of that. Another one is fascism, which is also proved here 🙁 ssmdh

  • Challenging the legitimacy of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on constitutional grounds has got to be one of the most amazing arguments I have ever heard. One of the saddest parts of our election process involves our dismal voting record. Our leaders, regardless of party affiliation, should be encouraging Americans to vote and should be doing everything they can to make voting easier.
    The reason for the anti-democratic actions being taken by GOP governors has nothing to do with the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, illegal immigrants voting, or potential voter fraud. The real reason involves the fact that at least 95% of African Americans plan to vote for Barack Obama and they are determined to make sure that does not happen.
    To add to their cynicism, governors such as Florida’s Rick Scott, the man whose insurance company, Columbia HCA, was found guilty of fraud and given the highest fine in U.S. history, hve gone as far as issuing blacklists including the names of Puerto Ricans, who are U.S. citizens the day they are born, Cuban Americans born in the USA or legal residents, to ensure they can not vote.
    The GOP is determined to turn the USA into a banana republic and it is up to us to find ways to make sure every minority planning to vote has a photo ID, is registered, and has a ride on November 6th.