The Voting Rights Act was enacted to make “the promise of the right to vote under the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution a reality, ninety-five years after [its] passage”. Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, sixteen states are required to submit any redistricting plans to the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance. Preclearance is defined as the process of seeking U.S. Department of Justice approval for all changes related to voting. Section 5 of the Act requires that the United States Department of Justice or a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for District of Columbia “preclear” any attempt to change “any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting…” in any “covered jurisdiction”.
Redistricting Across The United States
The Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College presents one source to find information on redistricting in all fifty states. Scroll over a state to learn about its redistricting process, and click on a state to go to its individual page with more in-depth information and news coverage of redistricting in the state.
On January 20th, the United States Supreme Court ordered a federal court in Texas to reconsider the maps it had drawn for the state’s legislative districts. The Court unanimously held that the lower court may not have used “appropriate standards” in drawing the new maps. Instead, the lower court had “substituted its own concept of the collective public good for the Texas legislature’s determination of which policies serve the interests of the citizens of Texas.” The Court remanded the case to the district court to draw new maps, this time starting from the plan created by the state legislature last year. Please see this earlier coverage by the Rose Report for a more in-depth analysis on the background of the case.