Feds say NH no longer racist
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The Federal Department of Justice has “bailed out” New Hampshire from the preclearance requirements of the Voting Right Acts, meaning that state officials no longer have to notify the DOJ about any changes to election laws in ten New Hampshire towns. The Concord Monitor’s Ben Leubsdorf reports on the decision.
New Hampshire’s request to be exempted from the requirement was supported by the U.S. Justice Department, which said it found significant voter turnout and no evidence of racially discriminatory voting practices in those 10 communities.
“We are bailed out from the preclearance requirements of Section 5 of the national Voting Rights Act. . . . This effectively is the end, as far as we’re concerned,” said Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan.
Friday’s ruling came just two days after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case seeking to overturn Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in its entirety. The high court isn’t expected to rule until later this year.
New Hampshire had ignored Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for decades, but began the onerous process of removing itself as a covered jurisdictions nearly ten years ago. The Obama Administration is trying to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that preclearance requirements on still necessary in several southern states, but critics argue that requiring states to get federal permission for anything from Voter ID laws to relocating polling places is an outdated and unconstitutional burden. They say the DOJ has long ignored the “bailout” provisions that let states get out from under federal preclearance jurisdiction. New Hampshire was able to take advantage of the Supreme Court case as federal authorities were anxious to show the Court that they were finally adhering the bailout provisions.
The bailout will save time and hassle for state election officials, but won’t have any impact on voters. The DOJ never objected to any changes in New Hampshire election law in the past 40 years, and never punished the state for ignoring the law for so long.
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