Court action on Voting Rights limits federal election monitors

Since a 2013 Supreme Court decision ruling two central provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, the Department of Justice is limited to sending election observers to five states for the 2016 presidential election.

The 2013 case, Shelby County v. Holder, saw Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a clause requiring select states and municipalities to acquire federal permission prior to carrying out any changes to their voting procedures, ruled unconstitutional.  Similarly, Section 4(b) of the Act, which comprised a federal method for determining which areas are forced to undergo federal scrutiny rooted in past history of voter discrimination, was deemed unlawful.

Pursuant to the 2013 High Court ruling, only five states will host federal election officials; nine states previously affected by the Act are now free to enact changes to election law without federal approval.

Critics of the ruling say the laws declared unconstitutional will open the floodgates to mass voter suppression.

Prior to Holder, eleven states, mostly in the South, were subject to federal oversight based on past history of voter discrimination.

According to a Justice Department fact sheet, five states,¬†Alabama, Alaska, California, Louisiana, and New York, will host federal election observers for November’s elections.

Although the Justice Department has sent as many as 780 election officials nationwide in the past, it did not reveal how many would be assigned for the upcoming general election.


[Reuters] [Photo courtesy]