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TITLE 42 - THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE
CHAPTER 20 - ELECTIVE FRANCHISE

SUBCHAPTER I-A - ENFORCEMENT OF VOTING RIGHTS

SUBCHAPTER I–A—ENFORCEMENT OF VOTING RIGHTS

§1973. Denial or abridgement of right to vote on account of race or color through voting qualifications or prerequisites; establishment of violation

(a) No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title, as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) A violation of subsection (a) of this section is established if, based on the totality of circumstances, it is shown that the political processes leading to nomination or election in the State or political subdivision are not equally open to participation by members of a class of citizens protected by subsection (a) of this section in that its members have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice. The extent to which members of a protected class have been elected to office in the State or political subdivision is one circumstance which may be considered: Provided, That nothing in this section establishes a right to have members of a protected class elected in numbers equal to their proportion in the population.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §2, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 437; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314; amended Pub. L. 94–73, title II, §206, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 402; Pub. L. 97–205, §3, June 29, 1982, 96 Stat. 134.)

Amendments

  1982—Pub. L. 97–205 redesignated existing provisions as subsec. (a), struck out the comma after “voting”, substituted “in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of” for “to deny or abridge”, inserted “, as provided in subsection (b) of this section” after “in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title”, and added subsec. (b).

  1975—Pub. L. 94–73 substituted “race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title” for “race or color”.

Effective Date of 1982 Amendment

  Section 6 of Pub. L. 97–205 provided that: “Except as otherwise provided in this Act, the amendments made by this Act [see Short Title of 1982 Amendment note below] shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act [June 29, 1982].”

Short Title

This subchapter and subchapters I–B and I–C of this chapter known as the “Voting Rights Act of 1965”, see Short Title note set out under section 1971 of this title.

Congressional Purpose and Findings

  Pub. L. 109–246, §2, July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 577, provided that:

  “(a) Purpose.—The purpose of this Act [see Short Title of 2006 Amendment note set out under section 1971 of this title] is to ensure that the right of all citizens to vote, including the right to register to vote and cast meaningful votes, is preserved and protected as guaranteed by the Constitution.

  “(b) Findings.—The Congress finds the following:

    “(1) Significant progress has been made in eliminating first generation barriers experienced by minority voters, including increased numbers of registered minority voters, minority voter turnout, and minority representation in Congress, State legislatures, and local elected offices. This progress is the direct result of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [this subchapter and subchapters I–B and I–C of this chapter].

    “(2) However, vestiges of discrimination in voting continue to exist as demonstrated by second generation barriers constructed to prevent minority voters from fully participating in the electoral process.

    “(3) The continued evidence of racially polarized voting in each of the jurisdictions covered by the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 demonstrates that racial and language minorities remain politically vulnerable, warranting the continued protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    “(4) Evidence of continued discrimination includes—

      “(A) the hundreds of objections interposed, requests for more information submitted followed by voting changes withdrawn from consideration by jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and section 5 [42 U.S.C. 1973c] enforcement actions undertaken by the Department of Justice in covered jurisdictions since 1982 that prevented election practices, such as annexation, at-large voting, and the use of multi-member districts, from being enacted to dilute minority voting strength;

      “(B) the number of requests for declaratory judgments denied by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia;

      “(C) the continued filing of section 2 [42 U.S.C. 1973] cases that originated in covered jurisdictions; and

      “(D) the litigation pursued by the Department of Justice since 1982 to enforce sections 4(e), 4(f)(4), and 203 of such Act [42 U.S.C. 1973b(e), (f)(4), 1973aa–1a] to ensure that all language minority citizens have full access to the political process.

    “(5) The evidence clearly shows the continued need for Federal oversight in jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 since 1982, as demonstrated in the counties certified by the Attorney General for Federal examiner and observer coverage and the tens of thousands of Federal observers that have been dispatched to observe elections in covered jurisdictions.

    “(6) The effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been significantly weakened by the United States Supreme Court decisions in Reno v. Bossier Parish II and Georgia v. Ashcroft, which have misconstrued Congress’ original intent in enacting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and narrowed the protections afforded by section 5 of such Act [42 U.S.C. 1973c].

    “(7) Despite the progress made by minorities under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the evidence before Congress reveals that 40 years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination following nearly 100 years of disregard for the dictates of the 15th amendment and to ensure that the right of all citizens to vote is protected as guaranteed by the Constitution.

    “(8) Present day discrimination experienced by racial and language minority voters is contained in evidence, including the objections interposed by the Department of Justice in covered jurisdictions; the section 2 litigation filed to prevent dilutive techniques from adversely affecting minority voters; the enforcement actions filed to protect language minorities; and the tens of thousands of Federal observers dispatched to monitor polls in jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    “(9) The record compiled by Congress demonstrates that, without the continuation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 protections, racial and language minority citizens will be deprived of the opportunity to exercise their right to vote, or will have their votes diluted, undermining the significant gains made by minorities in the last 40 years.”

Separability

  Section 208 of Pub. L. 94–73 provided that: “If any amendments made by this Act [enacting sections 1973aa–1a and 1973aa–5 of this title, amending this section and sections 1973a to 1973d, 1973h, 1973i, 1973k, 1973l, 1973aa, 1973aa–2, 1973aa–3, 1973bb, 1973bb–1 of this title, and repealing sections 1973bb–2 to 1973bb–4 of this title] or the application of any provision thereof to any person or circumstance is judicially determined to be invalid, the remainder of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [this subchapter and subchapters I–B and I–C of this chapter], or the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected by such determination.”

§1973a. Proceeding to enforce the right to vote

(a) Authorization by court for appointment of Federal observers

  Whenever the Attorney General or an aggrieved person institutes a proceeding under any statute to enforce the voting guarantees of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment in any State or political subdivision the court shall authorize the appointment of Federal observers by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management in accordance with section 1973d of this title to serve for such period of time and for such political subdivisions as the court shall determine is appropriate to enforce the voting guarantees of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment (1) as part of any interlocutory order if the court determines that the appointment of such observers is necessary to enforce such voting guarantees or (2) as part of any final judgment if the court finds that violations of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment justifying equitable relief have occurred in such State or subdivision: Provided, That the court need not authorize the appointment of observers if any incidents of denial or abridgement of the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the voting guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title (1) have been few in number and have been promptly and effectively corrected by State or local action, (2) the continuing effect of such incidents has been eliminated, and (3) there is no reasonable probability of their recurrence in the future.

(b) Suspension of use of tests and devices which deny or abridge the right to vote

  If in a proceeding instituted by the Attorney General or an aggrieved person under any statute to enforce the voting guarantees of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment in any State or political subdivision the court finds that a test or device has been used for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the voting guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title, it shall suspend the use of tests and devices in such State or political subdivisions as the court shall determine is appropriate and for such period as it deems necessary.

(c) Retention of jurisdiction to prevent commencement of new devices to deny or abridge the right to vote

  If in any proceeding instituted by the Attorney General or an aggrieved person under any statute to enforce the voting guarantees of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment in any State or political subdivision the court finds that violations of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment justifying equitable relief have occurred within the territory of such State or political subdivision, the court, in addition to such relief as it may grant, shall retain jurisdiction for such period as it may deem appropriate and during such period no voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect at the time the proceeding was commenced shall be enforced unless and until the court finds that such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the voting guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title: Provided, That such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure may be enforced if the qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure has been submitted by the chief legal officer or other appropriate official of such State or subdivision to the Attorney General and the Attorney General has not interposed an objection within sixty days after such submission, except that neither the court's finding nor the Attorney General's failure to object shall bar a subsequent action to enjoin enforcement of such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §3, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 437; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314; amended Pub. L. 94–73, title II, §§205, 206, title IV, §§401, 410, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 402, 404, 406; 1978 Reorg. Plan No. 2, §102, eff. Jan. 1, 1979, 43 F.R. 36037, 92 Stat. 3783; Pub. L. 109–246, §3(d)(1), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 580.)

References in Text

  Section 1973d of this title, referred to in subsec. (a), was repealed by Pub. L. 109–246, §3(c), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 580.

Amendments

  2006—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 109–246 substituted “observers” for “examiners” wherever appearing.

  1975—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 94–73 inserted reference to fourteenth amendment in three places, and substituted “voting guarantees” for “guarantees” in three places, “Attorney General or an aggrieved person” for “Attorney General”, and “on account of race or color or in contravention of the voting guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title” for “on account of race or color”.

  Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 94–73 substituted “Attorney General or an aggrieved person under any statute to enforce the voting guarantees of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment” for “Attorney General under any statute to enforce the guarantees of the fifteenth amendment”, and “on account of race or color, or in contravention of the voting guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title” for “on account of race or color”.

  Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 94–73 substituted “Attorney General or an aggrieved person under any statute to enforce the voting guarantees of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment in any State or political subdivision the court finds that violations of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment” for “Attorney General under any statute to enforce the guarantees of the fifteenth amendment in any State or political subdivision the court finds that violations of the fifteenth amendment” and “on account of race or color, or in contravention of the voting guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title” for “on account of race or color”.

Transfer of Functions

  “Director of the Office of Personnel Management” substituted for “United States Civil Service Commission” in subsec. (a) pursuant to Reorg. Plan No. 2 of 1978, §102, 43 F.R. 36037, 92 Stat. 3783, set out under section 1101 of Title 5, Government Organization and Employees, which transferred all functions vested by statute in United States Civil Service Commission to Director of Office of Personnel Management (except as otherwise specified), effective Jan. 1, 1979, as provided by section 1–102 of Ex. Ord. No. 12107, Dec. 28, 1978, 44 F.R. 1055, set out under section 1101 of Title 5.

§1973b. Suspension of the use of tests or devices in determining eligibility to vote

(a) Action by State or political subdivision for declaratory judgment of no denial or abridgement; three-judge district court; appeal to Supreme Court; retention of jurisdiction by three-judge court

  (1) To assure that the right of citizens of the United States to vote is not denied or abridged on account of race or color, no citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State with respect to which the determinations have been made under the first two sentences of subsection (b) of this section or in any political subdivision of such State (as such subdivision existed on the date such determinations were made with respect to such State), though such determinations were not made with respect to such subdivision as a separate unit, or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issues a declaratory judgment under this section. No citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State with respect to which the determinations have been made under the third sentence of subsection (b) of this section or in any political subdivision of such State (as such subdivision existed on the date such determinations were made with respect to such State), though such determinations were not made with respect to such subdivision as a separate unit, or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issues a declaratory judgment under this section. A declaratory judgment under this section shall issue only if such court determines that during the ten years preceding the filing of the action, and during the pendency of such action—

    (A) no such test or device has been used within such State or political subdivision for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color or (in the case of a State or subdivision seeking a declaratory judgment under the second sentence of this subsection) in contravention of the guarantees of subsection (f)(2) of this section;

    (B) no final judgment of any court of the United States, other than the denial of declaratory judgment under this section, has determined that denials or abridgements of the right to vote on account of race or color have occurred anywhere in the territory of such State or political subdivision or (in the case of a State or subdivision seeking a declaratory judgment under the second sentence of this subsection) that denials or abridgements of the right to vote in contravention of the guarantees of subsection (f)(2) of this section have occurred anywhere in the territory of such State or subdivision and no consent decree, settlement, or agreement has been entered into resulting in any abandonment of a voting practice challenged on such grounds; and no declaratory judgment under this section shall be entered during the pendency of an action commenced before the filing of an action under this section and alleging such denials or abridgements of the right to vote;

    (C) no Federal examiners or observers under subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter have been assigned to such State or political subdivision;

    (D) such State or political subdivision and all governmental units within its territory have complied with section 1973c of this title, including compliance with the requirement that no change covered by section 1973c of this title has been enforced without preclearance under section 1973c of this title, and have repealed all changes covered by section 1973c of this title to which the Attorney General has successfully objected or as to which the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has denied a declaratory judgment;

    (E) the Attorney General has not interposed any objection (that has not been overturned by a final judgment of a court) and no declaratory judgment has been denied under section 1973c of this title, with respect to any submission by or on behalf of the plaintiff or any governmental unit within its territory under section 1973c of this title, and no such submissions or declaratory judgment actions are pending; and

    (F) such State or political subdivision and all governmental units within its territory—

      (i) have eliminated voting procedures and methods of election which inhibit or dilute equal access to the electoral process;

      (ii) have engaged in constructive efforts to eliminate intimidation and harassment of persons exercising rights protected under subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter; and

      (iii) have engaged in other constructive efforts, such as expanded opportunity for convenient registration and voting for every person of voting age and the appointment of minority persons as election officials throughout the jurisdiction and at all stages of the election and registration process.


  (2) To assist the court in determining whether to issue a declaratory judgment under this subsection, the plaintiff shall present evidence of minority participation, including evidence of the levels of minority group registration and voting, changes in such levels over time, and disparities between minority-group and non-minority-group participation.

  (3) No declaratory judgment shall issue under this subsection with respect to such State or political subdivision if such plaintiff and governmental units within its territory have, during the period beginning ten years before the date the judgment is issued, engaged in violations of any provision of the Constitution or laws of the United States or any State or political subdivision with respect to discrimination in voting on account of race or color or (in the case of a State or subdivision seeking a declaratory judgment under the second sentence of this subsection) in contravention of the guarantees of subsection (f)(2) of this section unless the plaintiff establishes that any such violations were trivial, were promptly corrected, and were not repeated.

  (4) The State or political subdivision bringing such action shall publicize the intended commencement and any proposed settlement of such action in the media serving such State or political subdivision and in appropriate United States post offices. Any aggrieved party may as of right intervene at any stage in such action.

  (5) An action pursuant to this subsection shall be heard and determined by a court of three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 2284 of title 28 and any appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court. The court shall retain jurisdiction of any action pursuant to this subsection for ten years after judgment and shall reopen the action upon motion of the Attorney General or any aggrieved person alleging that conduct has occurred which, had that conduct occurred during the ten-year periods referred to in this subsection, would have precluded the issuance of a declaratory judgment under this subsection. The court, upon such reopening, shall vacate the declaratory judgment issued under this section if, after the issuance of such declaratory judgment, a final judgment against the State or subdivision with respect to which such declaratory judgment was issued, or against any governmental unit within that State or subdivision, determines that denials or abridgements of the right to vote on account of race or color have occurred anywhere in the territory of such State or political subdivision or (in the case of a State or subdivision which sought a declaratory judgment under the second sentence of this subsection) that denials or abridgements of the right to vote in contravention of the guarantees of subsection (f)(2) of this section have occurred anywhere in the territory of such State or subdivision, or if, after the issuance of such declaratory judgment, a consent decree, settlement, or agreement has been entered into resulting in any abandonment of a voting practice challenged on such grounds.

  (6) If, after two years from the date of the filing of a declaratory judgment under this subsection, no date has been set for a hearing in such action, and that delay has not been the result of an avoidable delay on the part of counsel for any party, the chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia may request the Judicial Council for the Circuit of the District of Columbia to provide the necessary judicial resources to expedite any action filed under this section. If such resources are unavailable within the circuit, the chief judge shall file a certificate of necessity in accordance with section 292(d) of title 28.

  (7) The Congress shall reconsider the provisions of this section at the end of the fifteen-year period following the effective date of the amendments made by the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Cesar E. Chavez, Barbara C. Jordan, William C. Velasquez, and Dr. Hector P. Garcia Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006.

  (8) The provisions of this section shall expire at the end of the twenty-five-year period following the effective date of the amendments made by the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Cesar E. Chavez, Barbara C. Jordan, William C. Velasquez, and Dr. Hector P. Garcia Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006.

  (9) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the Attorney General from consenting to an entry of judgment if based upon a showing of objective and compelling evidence by the plaintiff, and upon investigation, he is satisfied that the State or political subdivision has complied with the requirements of subsection (a)(1) of this section. Any aggrieved party may as of right intervene at any stage in such action.

(b) Required factual determinations necessary to allow suspension of compliance with tests and devices; publication in Federal Register

  The provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall apply in any State or in any political subdivision of a State which (1) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1964, any test or device, and with respect to which (2) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 per centum of the persons of voting age residing therein were registered on November 1, 1964, or that less than 50 per centum of such persons voted in the presidential election of November 1964. On and after August 6, 1970, in addition to any State or political subdivision of a State determined to be subject to subsection (a) of this section pursuant to the previous sentence, the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall apply in any State or any political subdivision of a State which (i) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1968, any test or device, and with respect to which (ii) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 per centum of the persons of voting age residing therein were registered on November 1, 1968, or that less than 50 per centum of such persons voted in the presidential election of November 1968. On and after August 6, 1975, in addition to any State or political subdivision of a State determined to be subject to subsection (a) of this section pursuant to the previous two sentences, the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall apply in any State or any political subdivision of a State which (i) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1972, any test or device, and with respect to which (ii) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 per centum of the citizens of voting age were registered on November 1, 1972, or that less than 50 per centum of such persons voted in the Presidential election of November 1972.

  A determination or certification of the Attorney General or of the Director of the Census under this section or under section 1973f or 1973k of this title shall not be reviewable in any court and shall be effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

(c) “Test or device” defined

  The phrase “test or device” shall mean any requirement that a person as a prerequisite for voting or registration for voting (1) demonstrate the ability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter, (2) demonstrate any educational achievement or his knowledge of any particular subject, (3) possess good moral character, or (4) prove his qualifications by the voucher of registered voters or members of any other class.

(d) Required frequency, continuation and probable recurrence of incidents of denial or abridgement to constitute forbidden use of tests or devices

  For purposes of this section no State or political subdivision shall be determined to have engaged in the use of tests or devices for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section if (1) incidents of such use have been few in number and have been promptly and effectively corrected by State or local action, (2) the continuing effect of such incidents has been eliminated, and (3) there is no reasonable probability of their recurrence in the future.

(e) Completion of requisite grade level of education in American-flag schools in which the predominant classroom language was other than English

  (1) Congress hereby declares that to secure the rights under the fourteenth amendment of persons educated in American-flag schools in which the predominant classroom language was other than English, it is necessary to prohibit the States from conditioning the right to vote of such persons on ability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter in the English language.

  (2) No person who demonstrates that he has successfully completed the sixth primary grade in a public school in, or a private school accredited by, any State or territory, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in which the predominant classroom language was other than English, shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his inability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter in the English language, except that in States in which State law provides that a different level of education is presumptive of literacy, he shall demonstrate that he has successfully completed an equivalent level of education in a public school in, or a private school accredited by, any State or territory, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in which the predominant classroom language was other than English.

(f) Congressional findings of voting discrimination against language minorities; prohibition of English-only elections; other remedial measures

  (1) The Congress finds that voting discrimination against citizens of language minorities is pervasive and national in scope. Such minority citizens are from environments in which the dominant language is other than English. In addition they have been denied equal educational opportunities by State and local governments, resulting in severe disabilities and continuing illiteracy in the English language. The Congress further finds that, where State and local officials conduct elections only in English, language minority citizens are excluded from participating in the electoral process. In many areas of the country, this exclusion is aggravated by acts of physical, economic, and political intimidation. The Congress declares that, in order to enforce the guarantees of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution, it is necessary to eliminate such discrimination by prohibiting English-only elections, and by prescribing other remedial devices.

  (2) No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote because he is a member of a language minority group.

  (3) In addition to the meaning given the term under subsection (c) of this section, the term “test or device” shall also mean any practice or requirement by which any State or political subdivision provided any registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots, only in the English language, where the Director of the Census determines that more than five per centum of the citizens of voting age residing in such State or political subdivision are members of a single language minority. With respect to subsection (b) of this section, the term “test or device”, as defined in this subsection, shall be employed only in making the determinations under the third sentence of that subsection.

  (4) Whenever any State or political subdivision subject to the prohibitions of the second sentence of subsection (a) of this section provides any registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots, it shall provide them in the language of the applicable language minority group as well as in the English language: Provided, That where the language of the applicable minority group is oral or unwritten or in the case of Alaskan Natives and American Indians, if the predominate language is historically unwritten, the State or political subdivision is only required to furnish oral instructions, assistance, or other information relating to registration and voting.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §4, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 438; renumbered title I and amended Pub. L. 91–285, §§2–4, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314, 315; Pub. L. 94–73, title I, §101, title II, §§201–203, 206, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 400–402; Pub. L. 97–205, §2(a)–(c), June 29, 1982, 96 Stat. 131–133; Pub. L. 109–246, §§3(d)(2), (e)(1), 4, July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 580; Pub. L. 110–258, §2, July 1, 2008, 122 Stat. 2428.)

Amendments

  2008—Subsec. (a)(7), (8). Pub. L. 110–258 substituted “Coretta Scott King, Cesar E. Chavez, Barbara C. Jordan, William C. Velasquez, and Dr. Hector P. Garcia” for “and Coretta Scott King”.

  2006—Subsec. (a)(1)(C). Pub. L. 109–246, §3(d)(2), inserted “or observers” after “examiners”.

  Subsec. (a)(7), (8). Pub. L. 109–246, §4, substituted “Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006” for “Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1982”.

  Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 109–246, §3(e)(1), substituted “section 1973f” for “section 1973d”.

1982—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 97–205, §2(a), (b), substituted “nineteen years” for “seventeen years” in three places, effective June 29, 1982, and, effective on and after Aug. 5, 1985, completely revised subsec. (a). Prior to such revision, subsec. (a) consisted of 4 undesignated paragraphs reading as follows:

  “To assure that the right of citizens of the United States to vote is not denied or abridged on account of race or color, no citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State with respect to which the determinations have been made under the first two sentences of subsection (b) of this section or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an action for a declaratory judgment brought by such State or subdivision against the United States has determined that no such test or device has been used during the seventeen years preceding the filing of the action for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color: Provided, That no such declaratory judgment shall issue with respect to any plaintiff for a period of seventeen years after the entry of a final judgment of any court of the United States, other than the denial of a declaratory judgment under this section, whether entered prior to or after August 6, 1965, determining that denials or abridgments of the right to vote on account of race or color through the use of such tests or devices have occurred any where in the territory of such plaintiff. No citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State with respect to which the determinations have been made under the third sentence of subsection (b) of this section or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an action for a declaratory judgment brought by such State or subdivision against the United States has determined that no such test or device has been used during the ten years preceding the filing of the action for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section: Provided, That no such declaratory judgment shall issue with respect to any plaintiff for a period of ten years after the entry of a final judgment of any court of the United States, other than the denial of a declaratory judgment under this section, whether entered prior to or after the enactment of this paragraph, determining that denials or abridgments of the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section through the use of tests or devices have occurred anywhere in the territory of such plaintiff.

“An action pursuant to this subsection shall be heard and determined by a court of three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 2284 of title 28 and any appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court. The court shall retain jurisdiction of any action pursuant to this subsection for five years after judgment and shall reopen the action upon motion of the Attorney General alleging that a test or device has been used for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section.

  “If the Attorney General determines that he has no reason to believe that any such test or device has been used during the seventeen years preceding the filing of an action under the first sentence of this subsection for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, he shall consent to the entry of such judgment.

  “If the Attorney General determines that he has no reason to believe that any such test or device has been used during the ten years preceding the filing of an action under the second sentence of this subsection for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section, he shall consent to the entry of such judgment.”

  Subsec. (f)(4). Pub. L. 97–205, §2(c), inserted “or in the case of Alaskan Natives and American Indians, if the predominate language is historically unwritten”.

  1975—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 94–73, §§101, 201, 206, in first par., substituted “seventeen years” for “ten years” in two places, and “determinations have been made under the first two sentences of subsection (b)” for “determinations have been made under subsection (b)”, inserted provisions that no citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any state with respect to which the determinations have been made under the third sentence of subsection (b) of this section or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an action for a declaratory judgment brought by such state or subdivision against the United States has determined that no such test or device has been used during the ten years preceding the filing of the action for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section with the proviso that no such declaratory judgment shall issue with respect to any plaintiff for a period of ten years after the entry of final judgment of any court of the United States, other than the denial of a declaratory judgment under this section, whether entered prior to or after the enactment of this paragraph, determining that denials or abridgments of the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section through the use of tests or devices have occurred anywhere in the territory of such plaintiff, in second par., substituted “on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section” for “on account of race or color”, in third par., substituted “seventeen years preceding the filing of an action under the first sentence of this subsection” for “ten years preceding the filing of the action”, and added fourth par.

  Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 94–73, §202, inserted provisions that on and after August 6, 1975, in addition to any State or political subdivision of a State determined to be subject to subsection (a) pursuant to the previous two sentences, the provisions of subsection (a) shall apply in any State or any political subdivision of a State which the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1972, any test or device, and with respect to which the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 per centum of the citizens of voting age were registered on November 1, 1972, or that less than 50 per centum of such persons voted in the Presidential election of November, 1972.

  Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 94–73, §206, substituted “on account of race or color or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title” for “on account of race or color”.

  Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 94–73, §203, added subsec. (f).

  1970—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 91–285, §3, substituted “ten” for “five” years in first and third pars.

  Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 91–285, §4, inserted provision respecting the making of factual determinations concerning maintenance of any test or device on Nov. 1, 1968, registration of less than 50 per centum of persons of voting age on Nov. 1, 1968, and voting by less than 50 per centum of such persons in the presidential election of November 1968.

Effective Date of 1982 Amendment

Amendment by section 2(a), (c) of Pub. L. 97–205 effective June 29, 1982, see section 6 of Pub. L. 97–205, set out as a note under section 1973 of this title.

Section 2(b) of Pub. L. 97–205 provided that the amendment made by that section is effective on and after Aug. 5, 1984.

§1973c. Alteration of voting qualifications; procedure and appeal; purpose or effect of diminishing the ability of citizens to elect their preferred candidates

  (a) Whenever a State or political subdivision with respect to which the prohibitions set forth in section 1973b(a) of this title based upon determinations made under the first sentence of section 1973b(b) of this title are in effect shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1964, or whenever a State or political subdivision with respect to which the prohibitions set forth in section 1973b(a) of this title based upon determinations made under the second sentence of section 1973b(b) of this title are in effect shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1968, or whenever a State or political subdivision with respect to which the prohibitions set forth in section 1973b(a) of this title based upon determinations made under the third sentence of section 1973b(b) of this title are in effect shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1972, such State or subdivision may institute an action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment that such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title, and unless and until the court enters such judgment no person shall be denied the right to vote for failure to comply with such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure: Provided, That such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure may be enforced without such proceeding if the qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure has been submitted by the chief legal officer or other appropriate official of such State or subdivision to the Attorney General and the Attorney General has not interposed an objection within sixty days after such submission, or upon good cause shown, to facilitate an expedited approval within sixty days after such submission, the Attorney General has affirmatively indicated that such objection will not be made. Neither an affirmative indication by the Attorney General that no objection will be made, nor the Attorney General's failure to object, nor a declaratory judgment entered under this section shall bar a subsequent action to enjoin enforcement of such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure. In the event the Attorney General affirmatively indicates that no objection will be made within the sixty-day period following receipt of a submission, the Attorney General may reserve the right to reexamine the submission if additional information comes to his attention during the remainder of the sixty-day period which would otherwise require objection in accordance with this section. Any action under this section shall be heard and determined by a court of three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 2284 of title 28 and any appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court.

  (b) Any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting that has the purpose of or will have the effect of diminishing the ability of any citizens of the United States on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title, to elect their preferred candidates of choice denies or abridges the right to vote within the meaning of subsection (a) of this section.

  (c) The term “purpose” in subsections (a) and (b) of this section shall include any discriminatory purpose.

  (d) The purpose of subsection (b) of this section is to protect the ability of such citizens to elect their preferred candidates of choice.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §5, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 439; renumbered title I and amended Pub. L. 91–285, §§2, 5, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314, 315; Pub. L. 94–73, title II, §§204, 206, title IV, §405, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 402, 404; Pub. L. 109–246, §5, July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 580.)

Amendments

  2006—Pub. L. 109–246 designated existing provisions as subsec. (a), substituted “neither has the purpose nor will have the effect” for “does not have the purpose and will not have the effect”, and added subsecs. (b) to (d).

  1975—Pub. L. 94–73 inserted “or whenever a State or political subdivision with respect to which the prohibitions set forth in section 1973b(a) of this title based upon determinations made under third sentence of section 1973b(b) of this title are in effect shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1972,” after 1968, substituted “or upon good cause shown, to facilitate an expedited approval within sixty days after such submission, the Attorney General has affirmatively indicated that such objection will not be made. Neither an affirmative indication by the Attorney General that no objection will be made, nor the Attorney General's failure to object,” for “except that neither the Attorney General's failure to object”, and “on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title” for “on account of race or color”, and inserted provisions that in the event the Attorney General affirmatively indicates that no objection will be made within the sixty-day period following receipt of a submission, the Attorney General may reserve the right to examine the submission if additional information comes to his attention during the remainder of the sixty-day period which would otherwise require objection in accordance with this section.

  1970—Pub. L. 91–285 inserted “based upon determinations made under the first sentence of section 1973b(b) of this title” after “section 1973b(a) of this title” and “or whenever a State or political subdivision with respect to which the prohibitions set forth in section 1973b(a) of this title based upon determinations made under the second sentence of section 1973b(b) of this title are in effect shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1968,” after “1964,”.

§§1973d, 1973e. Repealed. Pub. L. 109–246, §3(c), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 580

  Section 1973d, Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §6, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 439; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314; amended Pub. L. 94–73, title II, §§205, 206, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 402; 1978 Reorg. Plan No. 2, §102, eff. Jan. 1, 1979, 43 F.R. 36037, 92 Stat. 3783; Pub. L. 103–94, §5, Oct. 6, 1993, 107 Stat. 1005, related to appointment of Federal voting examiners.

  Section 1973e, Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §7, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 440; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314; amended 1978 Reorg. Plan No. 2, §102, eff. Jan. 1, 1979, 43 F.R. 36037, 92 Stat. 3783, related to examination of applicants for registration.

§1973f. Use of observers

(a) Assignment

  Whenever—

    (1) a court has authorized the appointment of observers under section 1973a(a) of this title for a political subdivision; or

    (2) the Attorney General certifies with respect to any political subdivision named in, or included within the scope of, determinations made under section 1973b(b) of this title, unless a declaratory judgment has been rendered under section 1973b(a) of this title, that—

      (A) the Attorney General has received written meritorious complaints from residents, elected officials, or civic participation organizations that efforts to deny or abridge the right to vote under the color of law on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title are likely to occur; or

      (B) in the Attorney General's judgment (considering, among other factors, whether the ratio of nonwhite persons to white persons registered to vote within such subdivision appears to the Attorney General to be reasonably attributable to violations of the 14th or 15th amendment or whether substantial evidence exists that bona fide efforts are being made within such subdivision to comply with the 14th or 15th amendment), the assignment of observers is otherwise necessary to enforce the guarantees of the 14th or 15th amendment;

  the Director of the Office of Personnel Management shall assign as many observers for such subdivision as the Director may deem appropriate.

(b) Status

  Except as provided in subsection (c), such observers shall be assigned, compensated, and separated without regard to the provisions of any statute administered by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, and their service under subchapters I–A to I–C shall not be considered employment for the purposes of any statute administered by the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, except the provisions of section 7324 of title 5 prohibiting partisan political activity.

(c) Designation

  The Director of the Office of Personnel Management is authorized to, after consulting the head of the appropriate department or agency, designate suitable persons in the official service of the United States, with their consent, to serve in these positions.

(d) Authority

  Observers shall be authorized to—

    (1) enter and attend at any place for holding an election in such subdivision for the purpose of observing whether persons who are entitled to vote are being permitted to vote; and

    (2) enter and attend at any place for tabulating the votes cast at any election held in such subdivision for the purpose of observing whether votes cast by persons entitled to vote are being properly tabulated.

(e) Investigation and report

  Observers shall investigate and report to the Attorney General, and if the appointment of observers has been authorized pursuant to section 1973a(a) of this title, to the court.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §8, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 441; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314; amended Pub. L. 109–246, §3(a), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 578.)

Amendments

  2006—Pub. L. 109–246 amended section generally. Prior to amendment, text of section read as follows: “Whenever an examiner is serving under subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter in any political subdivision, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management may assign, at the request of the Attorney General, one or more persons, who may be officers of the United States, (1) to enter and attend at any place for holding an election in such subdivision for the purpose of observing whether persons who are entitled to vote are being permitted to vote, and (2) to enter and attend at any place for tabulating the votes cast at any election held in such subdivision for the purpose of observing whether votes cast by persons entitled to vote are being properly tabulated. Such persons so assigned shall report to an examiner appointed for such political subdivision, to the Attorney General, and if the appointment of examiners has been authorized pursuant to section 1973a(a) of this title, to the court.”

§1973g. Repealed. Pub. L. 109–246, §3(c), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 580

  Section, Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §9, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 441; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314; amended 1978 Reorg. Plan No. 2, §102, eff. Jan. 1, 1979, 43 F.R. 36037, 92 Stat. 3783, related to challenges to eligibilty listings.

§1973h. Poll taxes

(a) Congressional finding and declaration of policy against enforced payment of poll taxes as a device to impair voting rights

  The Congress finds that the requirement of the payment of a poll tax as a precondition to voting (i) precludes persons of limited means from voting or imposes unreasonable financial hardship upon such persons as a precondition to their exercise of the franchise, (ii) does not bear a reasonable relationship to any legitimate State interest in the conduct of elections, and (iii) in some areas has the purpose or effect of denying persons the right to vote because of race or color. Upon the basis of these findings, Congress declares that the constitutional right of citizens to vote is denied or abridged in some areas by the requirement of the payment of a poll tax as a precondition to voting.

(b) Authority of Attorney General to institute actions for relief against enforcement of poll tax requirement

  In the exercise of the powers of Congress under section 5 of the fourteenth amendment, section 2 of the fifteenth amendment and section 2 of the twenty-fourth amendment, the Attorney General is authorized and directed to institute forthwith in the name of the United States such actions, including actions against States or political subdivisions, for declaratory judgment or injunctive relief against the enforcement of any requirement of the payment of a poll tax as a precondition to voting, or substitute therefor enacted after November 1, 1964, as will be necessary to implement the declaration of subsection (a) of this section and the purposes of this section.

(c) Jurisdiction of three-judge district courts; appeal to Supreme Court

  The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction of such actions which shall be heard and determined by a court of three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 2284 of title 28 and any appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court. It shall be the duty of the judges designated to hear the case to assign the case for hearing at the earliest practicable date, to participate in the hearing and determination thereof, and to cause the case to be in every way expedited.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §10, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 442; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314; amended Pub. L. 94–73, title IV, §408, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 405.)

Amendments

  1975—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 94–73, §408(2), (3), inserted reference to section 2 of twenty-fourth amendment.

  Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 94–73, §408(1), struck out subsec. (d) which related to post-payment of poll taxes in event of a judicial declaration of constitutionality.

§1973i. Prohibited acts

(a) Failure or refusal to permit casting or tabulation of vote

  No person acting under color of law shall fail or refuse to permit any person to vote who is entitled to vote under any provision of subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter or is otherwise qualified to vote, or willfully fail or refuse to tabulate, count, and report such person's vote.

(b) Intimidation, threats, or coercion

  No person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for voting or attempting to vote, or intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for urging or aiding any person to vote or attempt to vote, or intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for exercising any powers or duties under section 1973a(a), 1973d, 1973f, 1973g, 1973h, or 1973j(e) of this title.

(c) False information in registering or voting; penalties

  Whoever knowingly or willfully gives false information as to his name, address or period of residence in the voting district for the purpose of establishing his eligibility to register or vote, or conspires with another individual for the purpose of encouraging his false registration to vote or illegal voting, or pays or offers to pay or accepts payment either for registration to vote or for voting shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both: Provided, however, That this provision shall be applicable only to general, special, or primary elections held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting or electing any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, presidential elector, Member of the United States Senate, Member of the United States House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands, or Resident Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

(d) Falsification or concealment of material facts or giving of false statements in matters within jurisdiction of examiners or hearing officers; penalties

  Whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of an examiner or hearing officer knowingly and willfully falsifies or conceals a material fact, or makes any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations, or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(e) Voting more than once

  (1) Whoever votes more than once in an election referred to in paragraph (2) shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

  (2) The prohibition of this subsection applies with respect to any general, special, or primary election held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting or electing any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, presidential elector, Member of the United States Senate, Member of the United States House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of Columbia, Guam, or the Virgin Islands, or Resident Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

  (3) As used in this subsection, the term “votes more than once” does not include the casting of an additional ballot if all prior ballots of that voter were invalidated, nor does it include the voting in two jurisdictions under section 1973aa–1 of this title, to the extent two ballots are not cast for an election to the same candidacy or office.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §11, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 443; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314; amended Pub. L. 91–405, title II, §204(e), Sept. 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 853; Pub. L. 94–73, title IV, §§404, 409, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 404, 405.)

References in Text

  Sections 1973d and 1973g of this title, referred to in subsec. (b), were repealed by Pub. L. 109–246, §3(c), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 580.

Amendments

  1975—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 94–73, §404, inserted reference to Guam and Virgin Islands.

  Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 94–73, §409, added subsec. (e).

  1970—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 91–405 substituted reference to Delegate from District of Columbia for Delegates or Commissioners from territories or possessions.

Effective Date of 1970 Amendment

  Amendment by Pub. L. 91–405 effective Sept. 22, 1970, see section 206(b) of Pub. L. 91–405, set out as an Effective Date note under section 25a of Title 2, The Congress.

§1973j. Civil and criminal sanctions

(a) Depriving or attempting to deprive persons of secured rights

  Whoever shall deprive or attempt to deprive any person of any right secured by section 1973, 1973a, 1973b, 1973c, or 1973h of this title or shall violate section 1973i(a) of this title, shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(b) Destroying, defacing, mutilating, or altering ballots or official voting records

  Whoever, within a year following an election in a political subdivision in which an observer has been assigned (1) destroys, defaces, mutilates, or otherwise alters the marking of a paper ballot which has been cast in such election, or (2) alters any official record of voting in such election tabulated from a voting machine or otherwise, shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(c) Conspiring to violate or interfere with secured rights

  Whoever conspires to violate the provisions of subsection (a) or (b) of this section, or interferes with any right secured by section 1973, 1973a, 1973b, 1973c, 1973h, or 1973i(a) of this title shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(d) Civil action by Attorney General for preventive relief; injunctive and other relief

  Whenever any person has engaged or there are reasonable grounds to believe that any person is about to engage in any act or practice prohibited by section 1973, 1973a, 1973b, 1973c, 1973e, 1973h, 1973i, or subsection (b) of this section, the Attorney General may institute for the United States, or in the name of the United States, an action for preventive relief, including an application for a temporary or permanent injunction, restraining order, or other order, and including an order directed to the State and State or local election officials to require them (1) to permit persons listed under subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter to vote and (2) to count such votes.

(e) Proceeding by Attorney General to enforce the counting of ballots of registered and eligible persons who are prevented from voting

  Whenever in any political subdivision in which there are observers appointed pursuant to subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter any persons allege to such an observer within forty-eight hours after the closing of the polls that notwithstanding (1) their listing under subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter or registration by an appropriate election official and (2) their eligibility to vote, they have not been permitted to vote in such election, the observer shall forthwith notify the Attorney General if such allegations in his opinion appear to be well founded. Upon receipt of such notification, the Attorney General may forthwith file with the district court an application for an order providing for the marking, casting, and counting of the ballots of such persons and requiring the inclusion of their votes in the total vote before the results of such election shall be deemed final and any force or effect given thereto. The district court shall hear and determine such matters immediately after the filing of such application. The remedy provided in this subsection shall not preclude any remedy available under State or Federal law.

(f) Jurisdiction of district courts; exhaustion of administrative or other remedies unnecessary

  The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction of proceedings instituted pursuant to this section and shall exercise the same without regard to whether a person asserting rights under the provisions of subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter shall have exhausted any administrative or other remedies that may be provided by law.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §12, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 443; Pub. L. 90–284, title I, §103(c), Apr. 11, 1968, 82 Stat. 75; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314; Pub. L. 109–246, §3(d)(3), (4), (e)(2), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 580.)

References in Text

Section 1973e of this title, referred to in subsec. (d), was repealed by Pub. L. 109–246, §3(c), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 580.

Amendments

  2006—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 109–246, §3(e)(2), struck out “1973e,” after “1973c,”.

  Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 109–246, §3(d)(3), substituted “an observer has been assigned” for “an examiner has been appointed”.

  Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 109–246, §3(e)(2), struck out “1973e,” after “1973c,”.

  Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 109–246, §3(d)(4), substituted “observers” for “examiners” and substituted “observer” for “examiner” in two places.

  1968—Subsecs. (a), (c). Pub. L. 90–284 struck out reference to violation of section 1973i(b) of this title.

§1973k. Termination of assignment of observers

(a) In general

  The assignment of observers shall terminate in any political subdivision of any State—

    (1) with respect to observers appointed pursuant to section 1973f of this title or with respect to examiners certified under subchapters I–A to I–C before July 27, 2006, whenever the Attorney General notifies the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, or whenever the District Court for the District of Columbia determines in an action for declaratory judgment brought by any political subdivision described in subsection (b), that there is no longer reasonable cause to believe that persons will be deprived of or denied the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title in such subdivision; and

    (2) with respect to observers appointed pursuant to section 1973a(a) of this title, upon order of the authorizing court.

(b) Political subdivision with majority of nonwhite persons registered

  A political subdivision referred to in subsection (a)(1) is one with respect to which the Director of the Census has determined that more than 50 per centum of the nonwhite persons of voting age residing therein are registered to vote.

(c) Petition for termination

  A political subdivision may petition the Attorney General for a termination under subsection (a)(1).

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §13, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 444; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314; amended Pub. L. 94–73, title II, §206, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 402; Pub. L. 109–246, §3(b), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 579; Pub. L. 110–258, §2, July 1, 2008, 122 Stat. 2428.)

Amendments

  2008—Subsec. (a)(1). Pub. L. 110–258 made technical amendment to reference in original act which appears in text as reference to July 27, 2006.

  2006—Pub. L. 109–246 amended section generally. Prior to amendment, section related to termination of listing procedures, basis for termination, and survey or census by the Director of the Census.

  1975—Pub. L. 94–73 substituted “on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title” for “on account of race or color”.

§1973l. Enforcement proceedings

(a) Criminal contempt

  All cases of criminal contempt arising under the provisions of subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter shall be governed by section 1995 of this title.

(b) Jurisdiction of courts for declaratory judgment, restraining orders, or temporary or permanent injunction

  No court other than the District Court for the District of Columbia shall have jurisdiction to issue any declaratory judgment pursuant to section 1973b or 1973c of this title or any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction against the execution or enforcement of any provision of subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter or any action of any Federal officer or employee pursuant hereto.

(c) Definitions

  (1) The terms “vote” or “voting” shall include all action necessary to make a vote effective in any primary, special, or general election, including, but not limited to, registration, listing pursuant to this subchapter, or other action required by law prerequisite to voting, casting a ballot, and having such ballot counted properly and included in the appropriate totals of votes cast with respect to candidates for public or party office and propositions for which votes are received in an election.

  (2) The term “political subdivision” shall mean any county or parish, except that where registration for voting is not conducted under the supervision of a county or parish, the term shall include any other subdivision of a State which conducts registration for voting.

  (3) The term “language minorities” or “language minority group” means persons who are American Indian, Asian American, Alaskan Natives or of Spanish heritage.

(d) Subpenas

  In any action for a declaratory judgment brought pursuant to section 1973b or 1973c of this title, subpenas for witnesses who are required to attend the District Court for the District of Columbia may be served in any judicial district of the United States: Provided, That no writ of subpena shall issue for witnesses without the District of Columbia at a greater distance than one hundred miles from the place of holding court without the permission of the District Court for the District of Columbia being first had upon proper application and cause shown.

(e) Attorney's fees

  In any action or proceeding to enforce the voting guarantees of the fourteenth or fifteenth amendment, the court, in its discretion, may allow the prevailing party, other than the United States, a reasonable attorney's fee, reasonable expert fees, and other reasonable litigation expenses as part of the costs.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §14, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 445; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314; amended Pub. L. 94–73, title II, §207, title IV, §402, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 402, 404; Pub. L. 109–246, §§3(e)(3), 6, July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 580, 581.)

Amendments

  2006—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 109–246, §3(e)(3), struck out “or a court of appeals in any proceeding under section 1973g of this title” after “District of Columbia”.

  Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 109–246, §6, inserted “, reasonable expert fees, and other reasonable litigation expenses” after “reasonable attorney's fee”.

  1975—Subsec. (c)(3). Pub. L. 94–73, §207, added par. (3).

  Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 94–73, §402, added subsec. (e).

§1973m. Omitted

Codification

  Section, Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §16, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 445; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314, authorized Attorney General and Secretary of Defense, jointly, to make a study to determine whether laws or practices of any State or States impose preconditions to voting resulting in discrimination against Armed Forces personnel seeking to vote and to make a report to Congress not later than June 30, 1966, with the results of such study and recommendations for legislation.

§1973n. Impairment of voting rights of persons holding current registration

  Nothing in subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter shall be construed to deny, impair, or otherwise adversely affect the right to vote of any person registered to vote under the law of any State or political subdivision.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §17, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 446; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314.)

§1973o. Authorization of appropriations

  There are hereby authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out the provisions of subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §18, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 446; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314.)

§1973p. Separability

If any provision of subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the remainder of subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter and the application of the provision to other persons not similarly situated or to other circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §19, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 446; renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91–285, §2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314.)

§1973q. Construction

  A reference in this subchapter to the effective date of the amendments made by, or the date of the enactment of, the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Cesar E. Chavez, Barbara C. Jordan, William C. Velasquez, and Dr. Hector P. Garcia Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 shall be considered to refer to, respectively, the effective date of the amendments made by, or the date of the enactment of, the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006.

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, §20, as added Pub. L. 110–258, §3, July 1, 2008, 122 Stat. 2428.)

References in Text

  The effective date of the amendments made by, or the date of the enactment of, the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006, referred to in text, is the date of enactment of Pub. L. 109–246, which was approved July 27, 2006.

General Information Voting Section
Contact

Toll-free - (800) 253-3931
Telephone - (202) 307-2767
Fax - (202) 307-3961
Email - voting.section@usdoj.gov Complaint form
Mailing Contact

Voting Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
Room 7254 - NWB
950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

Redistricting Census Information
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