Judge Dismisses Challenge To Election Monitoring

Sep 22, 2011
Originally published on September 22, 2011 1:53 pm
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DAVID GREENE, Host:

Here in Washington, a federal judge has upheld a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that's been under challenge from prominent conservatives. Shelby County, Alabama challenged the law's requirement that any changes to voting procedures be pre-approved by the federal government. Now lawyers for the county say they'll appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

CARRIE JOHNSON: But as the years have passed, some states have bristled at the federal oversight. And three separate lawsuits, including the one filed by Shelby County, Alabama, are seeking to overturn that part of the law. Rick Hasen of the University of California at Irvine says all of those cases involve one critical question.

RICK HASEN: Whether or not there's still enough evidence of unconstitutional conduct by the states to justify the portion of the Voting Rights Act that requires these covered jurisdictions to get permission before they change any of their voting rules.

JOHNSON: Edward Blum directs the Project on Fair Representation, a non-profit group that helped Shelby County with resources to bring a lawsuit.

EDWARD BLUM: It makes no sense for Texas and Alabama to be required go to the Justice Department to pre-clear voting changes, but not Arkansas and Oklahoma.

JOHNSON: Blum says he's willing to take the Alabama case all the way up to the nation's highest court.

BLUM: Congress never made a finding that racial discrimination still exists in these covered jurisdictions and not outside of these covered jurisdictions, so that's why we think the law is unconstitutional in and of itself.

JOHNSON: Carrie Johnson, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.