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U.S. DOJ Safeguards Voting Rights Act

0605_doj-sealSupporters of the 1965 Voting Rights Act celebrated two victories this week as the United States Justice Department upheld sections of the law in Mississippi and Georgia that will help prevent discrimination in voter registration and at polling places.

The court informed Karen Handel, Georgia secretary of state, Monday that she had failed to show that two new voter verification procedures did not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters.

Shortly before last fall’s election, the Georgia Election Protection Coalition learned that a number of citizens could be denied the right to vote due to two new procedures that incorrectly identified a number of U.S. citizens as non-citizens. Since the secretary of state did not submit the procedures for preclearance before implementing them as instructed under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the coalition filed a federal lawsuit to stop Handel from using either process. Monday’s court decision bars Georgia from continuing the voter verification process.

The Justice Department also announced Monday that beginning on June 2, it will monitor polling places in Mississippi, New Jersey, and South Dakota to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting rights statutes.

The observers will record activities at polling locations in certain jurisdictions, and DOJ Civil Rights Division attorneys will maintain contact with local election officials. Visit their Website for more information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws.

–Marcia A. Wade

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