Election Law

Alabama town's municipal election changes must get federal preclearance under judge's order


An Alabama town will have to submit some changes in its voting practices to preclearance review because of a federal judge’s order on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade ordered review under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, which allows “bail in” oversight for jurisdictions with a history of intentional discrimination, the New York Times reports. The order is here.

As a result, the city of Evergreen, Ala., will seek Justice Department approval of changes in how its city council is elected, in city council district boundaries, and in standards for which voters can participate in in municipal elections. The town, which has fewer than 4,000 residents, had acquiesced in the order to avoid future litigation.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the preclearance formula in another section of the Voting Rights Act. The formula had required preclearance for changes in voting practices by nine states, mostly in the South, and parts of seven others.

Granade’s ruling was the first to reinstate preclearance since the June decision, the Times says.

University of California at Irvine law professor Richard Hasen told the Times that the more interesting preclearance litigation would come in Texas and North Carolina, which oppose federal efforts to restore oversight under Section 3’s bail-in mechanism.

Prior coverage:

ABA Journal: “With the Supreme Court’s OK, states begin imposing new laws to limit the vote”

ABA Journal: “ABA urges Congress to restore remedies in the Voting Rights Act in wake of Supreme Court ruling”

ABAJournal.com: “SCOTUS leaves intact preclearance requirement in Voting Rights Act, strikes down the formula”

Updated at 8:20 a.m. to change awkward wording.

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