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DOJ’s Granite State Free Ride

April 5th, 2012 - 6:49 pm

Over at Election Law Center, I have a piece discussing the Granite State Free Ride that DOJ has been giving to New Hampshire under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  PJ Media has extensively covered the strong-arm enforcement of Section 5 against southern states like Texas and South Carolina regarding voter ID, and more.  It turns out that New Hampshire is subject to the obligations of Section 5, but has been allowed to ignore the law’s requirements for years, and the DOJ has never done the things it does to southern states which ignore the law.

Tabella also over at ELC notes the Justice Department has been ignoring New Hampshire’s failure to comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for years.  Stacks of unapproved changes are implemented in New Hampshire.  DOJ never sends “please submit” letters or files Section 5 enforcement lawsuits like it did in Calera, Alabama.  After all, Alabama is full of, well, southerners.

Why does this matter?  Obviously government officials deciding whether or not to enforce a law is a bad thing.  But imagine if you are a citizen of Texas, South Carolina, Florida or Arizona and learn that Washington D.C. forces your state to run a gauntlet of leftists bureaucrats anytime you move a polling place from a school to a church.  But New Hampshire enjoys a DOJ that looks the other way while election law changes stack up, unprecleared.  The Union Leader notes:

His [N.H. Secretary of State] office recently completed filing all changes made to election laws from 1968 to this year. For years the state ignored the federal law — outside of redistricting plans — and did not submit election law changes for pre-approval, and the federal agency took no action against the state.

How nice.  While Texas jurisdictions employ hundreds of government employees and tens of thousands of dollars complying with Section 5, New Hampshire gets the Granite State Free Ride.  This matters because the Supreme Court of the United States is likely to take up the constitutionality of Section 5 very shortly.  At issue is whether it is proper for some states to be subject to Section 5 (like Florida) and other states to be free from Section 5 obligations (like Ohio).  The Court might also find it peculiar that some states subject to Section 5, really aren’t.

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