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
Monday, July 11
Voting Rights Act Reauthorization
Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has announced that he'll be introducing legislation to extend provisions of the Voting Rights Act that expire in 2007. The AP has this report, and Rep. Sensenbrenner's prepared remarks -- delivered at the NAACP's annual convention in Milwaukee -- may be found here.

The key provisions of the Voting Rights Act set to expire next year are:

- Section 5, which requires that certain states and counties "preclear" election changes to make sure they don't have the purpose or effect of discriminating against racial minorities,

- Sections 6 through 9, which allow federal examiners to observe polling place activities, and

- Section 203, which requires that language assistance be provided to non-English proficient voters in places where they're sufficiently numerous.

The debate over whether to reauthorize the expiring Voting Rights Act provisions is sure to be a lively one in the months to come. And even if the Act is reauthorized, there's certain to be a battle over its constitutionality afterwards, which will be fought out in the courts and may well be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is of course one of many reasons why the selection of the next justice is so important. The question of Congress' power to enact civil rights legislation has been a major bone of contention on the Supreme Court, one in which Justice O'Connor has often cast the decisive vote.

In addition to the continuing issues regarding HAVA implementation, this blog will discuss the ongoing debate over the Voting Rights Act, as it unfolds in Congress and in the courts.

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Moritz College of Law The Ohio State University