Voting Rights Act Ruling Dooms Florida Challenge

     (CN) – The Supreme Court’s decision to strike key provisions of the Voting Rights Act led a nonprofit to drop its legal challenge to a Florida program that flags “potential noncitizens” on the voter rolls.
     The Florida Division of Elections announced in spring of 2012 that it would use a database-matching program to create lists of “potential noncitizens” whom election supervisors would then contact about their voting eligibility before Election Day.
     The American Civil Liberties Union reported that Florida forced more than 2,000 people to prove their citizenship in written notices that required an answer within 30 days, in what the group assailed as a bid to “purge eligible voters” under the guise of preventing election fraud.
     The nonprofit group Mi Familia Vota Education Fund sued Florida last year for allegedly violating section five of the Voting Rights Act, one of two sections of the landmark civil rights legislation stricken by the Supreme Court in June.
     Both parties agreed last week that the case could not move forward in the wake of the high court’s recent ruling against the Voting Rights Act.
     A five-justice majority struck down Sections 4 and 5 of the 1965 law, which created a “coverage formula” and imposed a so-called “preclearance” requirement.
     The formula defined areas with a history of race discrimination based on voter tests and turnout from the 1960s and 1970s, while the preclearance requirement forced certain states and counties to seek approval from federal authorities before changing election procedures or district lines.
     The preclearance requirement was originally aimed at rooting out bias in areas with a history of race discrimination.
     But Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the conservative majority, said conditions have changed so much in the past 50 years that the law’s “extraordinary measures” can no longer be justified.
     Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, called the dismissal of the Florida case a “serious disappointment for all who care about the right to vote and fighting back against voter suppression in Florida.”
     “The Supreme Court’s decision to gut the Voting Rights Act has taken away one of the primary tools we have used to challenge efforts to undermine democracy by suppressing minority votes,” Simon said in a statement.

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