Editorial…A move to restore Voting Rights Act

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A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a bill would restore key parts of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional.

Under the proposal, four states—Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas—would again have to get approval from the Justice Department before making any changes in the way they hold elections.

The proposal would undo some of the damage of a Supreme Court ruling last June that eliminated a provision requiring federal clearance by the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia as well as certain counties in California, Florida, New York, North Carolina and South Dakota and some local jurisdictions in Michigan.

The bill should help modernize and improve the civil rights legislation by updating the formulas used to require certain states with a history of discrimination to get federal approval before changing election laws and practices.

The bill would now require clearances only from states where there have been at least five Voting Rights Act violations—with at least one committed by the state itself. Bill supporters said only Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas fall into that category. States could seek a “bailout” from the clearance requirement after 10 years.

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