SECTION 5 OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT
(Extensions of Remarks - June 27, 2013)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E985-E986]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                   SECTION 5 OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT

                                 ______
                                 

                        HON. SHEILA JACKSON LEE

                                of texas

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, June 27, 2013

  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I would like to submit the following:
  1. How did Congress conclude that Section 5 was still necessary in 
2006?
  Congress conducted 21 hearings and amassed a record of over 15,000 
pages during the 2006 process. The bipartisan vote was

[[Page E986]]

the largest to date: the House vote was 390-33 and the Senate vote was 
98-0. President Bush signed the measure into law on July 27, 2006.
  2. How did Section 5 work to prevent discrimination in 2012?
  In South Carolina (Voter ID): The federal court approved the state's 
voter ID law in future elections only after DOJ's use of Section 5 
ensured that the final law would not discriminate against African-
American voters.
  In Texas (Redistricting): The federal district court denied 
preclearance to Texas' redistricting plans for Congress, state Senate, 
and state House, and affirmatively found that the plans for Congress 
and state Senate were adopted with a racially discriminatory purpose.
  In Florida (Early Voting): The federal court denied approval of a 
reduction in early voting until state agreed to implement plan that 
would not make it more difficult for minorities to vote.
  3. How will Congress respond to the Supreme Court decision?
   Congress will work in a measured bipartisan manner to conduct 
hearings and to deliberate in order to determine the appropriate 
legislative response to the Court's decision and to ensure that the 
voting rights of Americans are not violated.
  At a threshold level, Congress must hold oversight hearings to 
determine the current scope of voting discrimination across the 
country. This bipartisan process would review not only voting 
discrimination in past covered jurisdictions, but voting discrimination 
in all other states. This oversight process will necessary involve the 
Department of Justice and all parts of the civil rights advocacy 
community.
  We must be careful to maintain a deliberative and bipartisan 
oversight process. While the process may not yield immediate results, 
we must be careful ensure that it yields comprehensive a result that 
will survive legal scrutiny.
  Until a new coverage formula is in place, the Section 5 
``preclearance'' remedy is inactive, as there are no covered 
jurisdictions. That will require each of us to maintain vigilance with 
respect to discrimination, particularly in formerly covered 
jurisdictions, as Section 5 protections will probably sent during the 
2014 election cycle.
  1. Supreme Court found the current Section 5 Coverage formula 
Unconstitutional:
  The Court ruled that Section 5 cannot be enforced unless Congress 
crafts a new formula for determining which states and localities are 
covered by the ``preclearance'' mechanism. By a 5-4 vote, the Court 
found that Congress in the 2006 reauthorization relied on 40-year-old 
data that does not reflect racial progress and changes in U.S. society. 
The Court found that Congress must ``identify those jurisdictions to be 
singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current 
conditions.'' The Court recognized that ``voting discrimination still 
exists'' and remains a problem that Congress is constitutionally 
entitled to address through legislation.
  The court did not strike down the ``preclearance'' approval 
requirement of the law that has been used, mainly in the South, to open 
up polling places to minority voters in the nearly half century since 
it was first enacted in 1965. However, the Court noted that Congress 
must update the formula for determining which parts of the country must 
seek Washington's approval, in advance, for election changes.
  2. What did Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act require?
  Required that all or part of 16 states with a history of 
discrimination in voting submit requests to change election-related 
procedures for federal approval before they can be implemented.
  Requests could be submitted to U.S. Attorney General or to the U.S. 
District Court for DC.
  Freezes voting changes before implemented to stop voting 
discrimination before it begins.
  Section 5 reauthorized by Congress in 1970, 1975, 1982, and 2006.
  Requires covered jurisdictions to show that a voting change is not 
discriminatory.
  Covers more jurisdictions than the South/Geographic Coverage of 
Section 5.
  Entire State: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, 
Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia.
  Jurisdictions within a State: California, Florida, Michigan, New 
Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota.

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