Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Effects of the Voting Rights Act Decision

This is really just amazing. I wonder what the SCOTUS conservatives think? I'd guess they'd say this stuff and wrong but it should be fixed by the states not the federal government.

Balkinization: And the Shenanigans Begin

"As of today it has been a month since Shelby County, and we’re starting to find out. In short, it looks like the voting rights advocates knew what they were talking about.  (As did Justice Ginsburg, who told the AP today, ‘I didn't want to be right, but sadly I am.’)  With impressive speed, formerly-covered jurisdictions are enacting and implementing major voting changes that will negatively affect minority voters—as well as the poor, elderly, and young voters who were the indirect beneficiaries of Section 5’s protections. Some of these changes are getting a lot of attention, such as the fusillade of statewide changes in North Carolina, where things have now escalated to the point of sit-ins and protests. In Florida, aggressive voter roll purges are set to resume—a story that will undoubtedly get some national attention because of memories of the Florida voter purge in 2000 that removed from the rolls a number of eligible voters many times larger than Bush’s margin of victory.  (And indeed, the architect of the purge set to begin now in 2013 is the very same guy who orchestrated that infamous 2000 purge effort.) North Carolina and Florida were only ever partially covered by the formula the Court struck down in Shelby County, but that was enough to prevent changes like these. In the absence of Section 5, we’re off to the races.

However, the greatest impact of Shelby County will likely be at the local level—in places where media scrutiny is minimal, and litigation resources meager.  You will hear less about these local cases.  But I think that's a problem; they are really where the action is.  And so, via the excellent Texas Redistricting blog (which has links to all the filings and so on), today I bring you the following report from Beaumont, Texas, a small city of about 120,000 in the southeast corner of the state, on the Gulf Coast south of the piney woods. The population is about 45% black; four out of seven school board members are black.  Voting is pretty racially polarized.  This is a convoluted tale, as these tales often are. But in brief, three candidates who lost in the last election to three of the four black school board members are trying to get a state court to oust those three black incumbents and install them (the losing candidates) instead. The losing candidates pulled off a sneaky, and rather brazen, subterfuge: they filed candidate papers for a special election that had not yet been announced, and then subsequently convinced a state court that state law required ordering the election, with a retroactive filing deadline that had already passed. Since the three black incumbents did not file candidate papers—understandably, since no election had been called for their seats, and they are only halfway through their terms—the non-black challengers say the court should just install them, the challengers, as winners by default.  The Beaumont situation provides a particularly clear case of a local shenanigan that could occur only because of the demise of Section 5, for reasons I'll explain below the fold."

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