Fla. Counties Free From Federal Review After Voting Rights Act Ruling

Jun 25, 2013

Five Florida counties needing pre-clearance from the federal government to change their voting laws won’t undergo that review any more. That's after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional.

The five Florida counties had a history of disenfranchising minority voters, under a test outlined in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But the Supreme Court struck down the test for identifying voter discrimination. Florida A&M University law professor Patricia Broussard had filed a brief urging the court to uphold the test, and she says she’s disappointed the counties won’t be reviewed.

“It means that they can kind of do what they want to in terms of making changes as to how one registers to vote, where one registers to vote," Broussard said.

Florida State Department spokesman, Chris Cate, said, the ruling will simplify voting laws in the state.

“It’s going to be positive for Florida because all counties are going to be treated equally. So, instead of five counties having to go through this extra process, laws will be able to be implemented on the date that the bill that was signed into law goes into effect," Cate said.

In a five-four ruling, the Supreme Court said it is unconstitutional to single out some states and counties to review. Minority-rights advocates, including Broussard, are calling for Congress to reinstate some type of voter protection nationwide.