Dan Tokaji's Blog
Professor Dan Tokaji
Election reform, the Voting Rights Act, the Help America Vote Act, and related topics -- with special attention to the voting rights of people of color, non-English proficient citizens, and people with disabilities

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Equal Vote
Friday, August 26
DOJ Preclears Georgia's ID Law
It's a sad day for voting rights. The United States Department of Justice today precleared Georgia's photo ID law. As noted in this post, I was among five election law professors who submitted a letter to DOJ urging that the Georgia law be denied preclearance.

The AP has this report on the preclearance decision and the ACLU this response, calling the preclearance decision "highly partisan." The Director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project Laughlin McDonald points out, correctly in my view, that the decision will make minority voters worse off since they're statistically more likely to lack ID.

The preclearance decision is particularly difficult to justify, given that there's precious little evidence that the voter ID law will do anything to curb fraud. On the other hand, it's not particularly surprising that DOJ has granted preclearance. As I noted in this post from July 12, it was doubtful from the beginning that the Bush Justice Department would apply the Voting Rights Act's retrogression standard faithfully.

Can we trust DOJ to adminster the Voting Rights Act with a blind eye to its partisan effects? I don't think so. As the VRA comes up for reauthorization, one of the changes that should seriously be considered is whether authority to preclear state-level election changes should be taken out of DOJ's hands, and placed in some type of body that would reduce the possibility of partisan manipulation.

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Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University