Yesterday, Virginia’s state redistricting plan was approved by Eric Holder’s Justice Department. Why? Because Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli simultaneously sought approval from a federal court. The Voting Rights Act gives covered states both options, and Cuccinelli chose both. Smart move. His decision derailed preordained DOJ plans to engage in a wide array of behind the scenes mischief in the administrative review of Virginia’s house and senate plans.
Contrast Cuccinelli’s smart decision with Florida’s bad decision on a voting change which the civil rights industry is aligning to scuttle at DOJ. I blog at Election Law Center:
Kirsten Clarke [of the NAACP], et al, in a letter to Chris Herren, Voting Section Chief of at the Justice Department, requests DOJ to object to the new Florida law designed to cut down on mischief involving Acorn-style voter registration drives. The Florida law does three primary things: 1) limit the time Acorn-style groups can sit on voter registration forms they have collected, 2) compress the dates of early voting but keep the same number of hours, and 3) require voters who no longer live where they are registered to cast a provisional ballot to be verified later in the precinct they have moved to but failed to move their voter registration. These three requirements, according to Clarke and the NAACP, are racially discriminatory. Read the full letter here.
Florida may have gravely miscalculated by sending this law to the Justice Department for approval. Instead, Florida could have gone straight to the United States District Court in D.C. for approval by a judge. Because Florida chose to submit to Eric Holder’s Justice Department, it opened the door for lobbying by Clarke and other well connected racial interest groups. . . . At a minimum, Florida will probably be burdened with more information requests, a range of questions which could otherwise only be obtained in discovery, and general hostility toward the Florida plan.
More likely, Florida’s law faces a potential DOJ objection. Obama’s base is screaming for it, loudly. Bottom line, states must go to court on voter ID and redistricting, not to DOJ.