Georgia Could Be Subject to Pre-Clearance After Amendments to the Voting Rights Act

DC lawmakers have introduced a bill updating the formula used by the Voting Rights Act to determine which states and localities must submit changes in voting locations and election procedures to the federal government for approval. Under the new formula, Georgia would again be among the locations required to submit changes before they could go into effect.

Arguing it was outdated, the Supreme Court last June invalidated the original formula passed in 1965. The ruling effectively gutted Section 5 of the VRA, and allowed the previously affected states and municipalities, including Georgia, the freedom to change precinct boundaries and voting locations on their own.

The bill was written by John Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin), John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont). It was was introduced to coincide with Monday’s Martin Luther King holiday. According to the Associated Press,

The new bill redraws from scratch the formula used to determine which states are required to seek federal approval before changing their voting practices. It requires clearance only from states where there have been at least five Voting Rights Acts violations – with at least one committed by the state itself.

Supporters said only Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas fall into that category. After 10 years, states could seek a “bailout” from the clearance requirement.

This morning’s AJC quotes Atlanta Rep. John Lewis:

The swift action we took on this issue demonstrates the importance of the right to vote (for) members on both sides of the aisle,” said Rep. John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat and former civil rights movement leader. “It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society.”

While the bill may gain some traction in the Democratically controlled Senate, support in the Republican controlled House is much less certain.


  1. Nathan says:

    If pre-clearance is such a great thing to ensure the protection of voters, then why not make it mandatory for all 50 states and just bypass the whole calculation anyway?

  2. ChuckEaton says:

    Notable that none of the authors live in states that are burdened by Sec. 5. If it’s such a great idea, then maybe they should apply it to their own states. Saw Dick Durbin was a sponsor – no doubt Chicago could use some help cleaning their polls up.

  3. Ellynn says:

    If you look at the the bill, it applies to any state that has the five VRA violations. So If Illionis gets 3 more, it will have to conform to sec 5 too. This can also slow down some of the voting bills in other states that have passed votering restructions in the last few years that are questionable (like Ohio and Wisconsin).

    Rep. Sensenbrenner has some hardcore conservitive influnence in the house and his Wisconsin district is the most conservitive pro GOP area of his state. This could have a chance.

  4. Stefan says:

    What we need a a bipartisan bill that produces neutral districts, rather than allowing state legislatures to expand the majority as much a cartographically possible.

  5. Harry says:

    Sensenbrenner is just window dressing. This little piece of proposed legislation has the Democratic stamp on it, and will nail the defeat of Democrats Nunn and Carter in November.

    • Ellynn says:

      Ok, I know I am going to reget this but…

      How exactly is a bill on the VRA going nail a defeat for Nunn and Carter…? Draw the lines for us.

      • Harry says:

        You don’t this will get voter feedback in Georgia? Democrats will rightfully be blamed for this retribution.

        • Ellynn says:

          This will get far right voter feedback. The establishment GOP will complain, but they have bigger issues to use in nailing the DNC – it’s a minnor talking point at best. The moderates will not care.

          At this point Fox does not even have a story on it yet…

          Now over in Texas… they might kick up some dust over this, but it’s only going to be a little cloud.

          • seenbetrdayz says:

            You don’t think GA moderates care that their votes are second-rate compared to other states? I mean, we’re going on half a century. It’s no longer a ‘sins of the fathers’ issue, it’s practically ‘sins of the great-grandfathers’ and I don’t think people who came up with the idea of pre-clearance imagined it to be an eternal thing.

            • Ellynn says:

              A vote is a vote. It’s not about first rate or second rate (I don’t even know how one can be rated over another…). It’s about making sure you get to have one.

              As stated by the AP link listed “It requires clearance only from states where there have been at least five Voting Rights Acts violations in the most recent 15 years – with at least one committed by the state itself.” These are current sins, not something from half a century ago. That sort of make this about you, me and us – no fathers or great grandfathers required. Since last June, no state law has been changed that was in affect prior to the SCOTUS ruling (unlike Texas). The state voter ID was ruled legal, our current districts don’t change for another 7 years or so and even then – we can still gerrymander them. We stop volating the VRA and in 2024ish this is no longer an issue.

              • South Fulton Guy says:

                Ellynn, Under that definition how many Voting Rights Acts violations has GA had in the last 15 years?

          • Scott65 says:

            actually…voter ID laws have done more to turn out the democratic base then anything democrats themselves could ever do. Watch what happens in NC in the 2014 elections and we can revisit the conversation. Long lines in FL in minority districts should have been the shot across the bow to the GOP but they refuse to see it.

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