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Voting rights advocates push for federal oversight

Kara Brandeisky | 3/7/2014, 6 a.m.

Veasey et al. v. Perry et al.: The day the Supreme Court freed Texas from federal oversight, Gov. Rick Perry announced his intent to enact a photo ID law that the Justice Department and a federal court had refused to approve. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, sued the next day. Veasey and supporters — including the League of United Latin American Citizens and Dallas County – say the law discriminates against minority voters, who, by the state’s own admission, are less likely to possess an eligible ID. The plaintiffs want to put the entire state back under preclearance, and the Justice Department’s photo ID lawsuit was merged with this case.

Petteway et al. v. Galveston County: Five local elected officials, led by Constable Terry Petteway, sued Galveston County, arguing that the county gerrymandered their districts to discriminate against Latino and African-American candidates. The officials have asked a federal court to throw out the map and put Galveston County back under federal oversight.

Cantue et al. v. Beaumont Independent School District: This case targets a school district. After years of legal battles over voting maps, a group of Beaumont citizens who believe the district has discriminated against black voters want preclearance of all election changes.

North Carolina

Almost two months after the “Shelby County v. Holder” ruling, North Carolina passed a bill that requires voters to show photo ID, shortens the early voting period, eliminates same-day registration and instructs election officials to throw out any ballots cast in the wrong precinct, among other restrictions. Now three different lawsuits ask to put North Carolina back under preclearance.

North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP et al. v. McCrory et al.: The plaintiffs say the law discriminates against African-American voters, who are less likely to have a photo ID, more likely to vote early and who historically have cast more out-of-precinct ballots.

League of Women Voters et al. v. North Carolina et al.: The League of Women Voters is particularly concerned about the law’s early voting restrictions. The complaint says that in 2012, almost 20 percent of the electorate cast ballots during the early voting days that the legislature eliminated in 2013. The League contends that shortening the early voting period unfairly burdens poor and minority voters and will increase waiting times for all.

U.S. v. North Carolina et al.: In September, the Justice Department filed its own lawsuit. The complaint notes that from 1980 to 2013, the Justice Department objected to 60 of the 155 voting changes that North Carolina submitted for preclearance.

Louisiana

Terrebonne Parish Branch NAACP et al. v. Jindal et al.: Five judges on the 32nd Judicial District Court are elected at-large by majority vote. A black candidate has never won. Now, the Terrebonne Parish Branch NAACP argues that the at-large scheme dilutes the black vote and that racial discrimination continues to the current day. As an example, the plaintiffs assert that in 2004, a sitting judge was suspended for attending a Halloween party dressed in blackface and an orange prison jumpsuit — only to be re-elected in 2008. The plaintiffs ask the court to require preclearance for the 32nd Judicial District.