Voting Rights Act Bill Introduced

Federal legislation has been filed that would once again make Texas cities subject to preclearance under the Voting Rights Act.

Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Shelby County v. Holder. The Court concluded that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, but the holding also affects other portions of the law (including the Section 5 requirement that any voting change be “precleared” by submitting it to the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court for a determination that it is not discriminatory).

Section 4 of the Act was declared unconstitutional because of the lack of recent evidence of discriminatory voting practices.  The Court left that issue of providing that evidence open for congressional action, and the recently-filed federal legislation would modify the Act to impose preclearance based on current conditions. 

Among several other things, the bill by Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R – Wisconsin) would establish a rolling nationwide trigger that covers states or jurisdictions that have a persistent record of recent voting rights violations in the last 15 years. Texas would likely fall back under the Act based on the provisions of the bill.

The League will continue to monitor and report on the issue.


TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose. No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the Texas Municipal League.

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