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SUBCHAPTER I-B—SUPPLEMENTAL PROVISIONS

§1973aa. Application of prohibition to other States; “test or device” defined

  (a) No citizen shall be denied, because of his failure to comply with any test or device, the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election conducted in any State or political subdivision of a State.

  (b) As used in this section, the term “test or device” means 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.

(Pub. L. 89-110, title II, §201, as added Pub. L. 91-285, §6, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 315; amended Pub. L. 94-73, title I, §102, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 400.)

Amendments

1975-Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 94-73 struck out “Prior to August 6, 1975,” and “as to which the provisions of section 1973b(a) of this title are not in effect by reason of determinations made under section 1973b(b) of this title”.

§1973aa-1. Residence requirements for voting

(a) Congressional findings

  The Congress hereby finds that the imposition and application of the durational residency requirement as a precondition to voting for the offices of President and Vice President, and the lack of sufficient opportunities for absentee registration and absentee balloting in presidential elections-

    (1) denies or abridges the inherent constitutional right of citizens to vote for their President and Vice President;

    (2) denies or abridges the inherent constitutional right of citizens to enjoy their free movement across State lines;

    (3) denies or abridges the privileges and immunities guaranteed to the citizens of each State under article IV, section 2, clause 1, of the Constitution;

    (4) in some instances has the impermissible purpose or effect of denying citizens the right to vote for such officers because of the way they may vote;

    (5) has the effect of denying to citizens the equality of civil rights, and due process and equal protection of the laws that are guaranteed to them under the fourteenth amendment; and

    (6) does not bear a reasonable relationship to any compelling State interest in the conduct of presidential elections.

(b) Congressional declaration: durational residency requirement, abolishment; absentee registration and balloting standards, establishment

  Upon the basis of these findings, Congress declares that in order to secure and protect the above-stated rights of citizens under the Constitution, to enable citizens to better obtain the enjoyment of such rights, and to enforce the guarantees of the fourteenth amendment, it is necessary (1) to completely abolish the durational residency requirement as a precondition to voting for President and Vice President, and (2) to establish nationwide, uniform standards relative to absentee registration and absentee balloting in presidential elections.

(c) Prohibition of denial of right to vote because of durational residency requirement or absentee balloting

  No citizen of the United States who is otherwise qualified to vote in any election for President and Vice President shall be denied the right to vote for electors for President and Vice President, or for President and Vice President, in such election because of the failure of such citizen to comply with any durational residency requirement of such State or political subdivision; nor shall any citizen of the United States be denied the right to vote for electors for President and Vice President, or for President and Vice President, in such election because of the failure of such citizen to be physically present in such State or political subdivision at the time of such election, if such citizen shall have complied with the requirements prescribed by the law of such State or political subdivision providing for the casting of absentee ballots in such election.

(d) Registration: time for application; absentee balloting: time of application and return of ballots

  For the purposes of this section, each State shall provide by law for the registration or other means of qualification of all duly qualified residents of such State who apply, not later than thirty days immediately prior to any presidential election, for registration or qualification to vote for the choice of electors for President and Vice President or for President and Vice President in such election; and each State shall provide by law for the casting of absentee ballots for the choice of electors for President and Vice President, or for President and Vice President, by all duly qualified residents of such State who may be absent from their election district or unit in such State on the day such election is held and who have applied therefor not later than seven days immediately prior to such election and have returned such ballots to the appropriate election official of such State not later than the time of closing of the polls in such State on the day of such election.

(e) Change of residence; voting in person or by absentee ballot in State of prior residence

  If any citizen of the United States who is otherwise qualified to vote in any State or political subdivision in any election for President and Vice President has begun residence in such State or political subdivision after the thirtieth day next preceding such election and, for that reason, does not satisfy the registration requirements of such State or political subdivision he shall be allowed to vote for the choice of electors for President and Vice President, or for President and Vice President, in such election, (1) in person in the State or political subdivision in which he resided immediately prior to his removal if he had satisfied, as of the date of his change of residence, the requirements to vote in that State or political subdivision, or (2) by absentee ballot in the State or political subdivision in which he resided immediately prior to his removal if he satisfies, but for his nonresident status and the reason for his absence, the requirements for absentee voting in that State or political subdivision.

(f) Absentee registration requirement

  No citizen of the United States who is otherwise qualified to vote by absentee ballot in any State or political subdivision in any election for President and Vice President shall be denied the right to vote for the choice of electors for President and Vice President, or for President and Vice President, in such election because of any requirement of registration that does not include a provision for absentee registration.

(g) State or local adoption of less restrictive voting practices

  Nothing in this section shall prevent any State or political subdivision from adopting less restrictive voting practices than those that are prescribed herein.

(h) “State” defined

  The term “State” as used in this section includes each of the several States and the District of Columbia.

(i) False registration, and other fraudulent acts and conspiracies: application of penalty for false information in registering or voting

The provisions of section 1973i(c) of this title shall apply to false registration, and other fraudulent acts and conspiracies, committed under this section.

(Pub. L. 89-110, title II, §202, as added Pub. L. 91-285, §6, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 316.)

§1973aa-1a. Bilingual election requirements

(a) Congressional findings and declaration of policy

  The Congress finds that, through the use of various practices and procedures, citizens of language minorities have been effectively excluded from participation in the electoral process. Among other factors, the denial of the right to vote of such minority group citizens is ordinarily directly related to the unequal educational opportunities afforded them resulting in high illiteracy and low voting participation. 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 these practices, and by prescribing other remedial devices.

(b) Bilingual voting materials requirement

  (1) Generally

    Before August 6, 2032, no covered State or political subdivision shall provide voting materials only in the English language.

  (2) Covered States and political subdivisions

    (A) Generally

      A State or political subdivision is a covered State or political subdivision for the purposes of this subsection if the Director of the Census determines, based on the 2010 American Community Survey census data and subsequent American Community Survey data in 5-year increments, or comparable census data, that—

        (i)(I) more than 5 percent of the citizens of voting age of such State or political subdivision are members of a single language minority and are limited-English proficient;

        (II) more than 10,000 of the citizens of voting age of such political subdivision are members of a single language minority and are limited-English proficient; or

        (III) in the case of a political subdivision that contains all or any part of an Indian reservation, more than 5 percent of the American Indian or Alaska Native citizens of voting age within the Indian reservation are members of a single language minority and are limited-English proficient; and

        (ii) the illiteracy rate of the citizens in the language minority as a group is higher than the national illiteracy rate.

    (B) Exception

      The prohibitions of this subsection do not apply in any political subdivision that has less than 5 percent voting age limited-English proficient citizens of each language minority which comprises over 5 percent of the statewide limited-English proficient population of voting age citizens, unless the political subdivision is a covered political subdivision independently from its State.

  (3) Definitions

    As used in this section-

      (A) the term “voting materials” means registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots;

      (B) the term “limited-English proficient” means unable to speak or understand English adequately enough to participate in the electoral process;

      (C) the term “Indian reservation” means any area that is an American Indian or Alaska Native area, as defined by the Census Bureau for the purposes of the 1990 decennial census;

      (D) the term “citizens” means citizens of the United States; and

      (E) the term “illiteracy” means the failure to complete the 5th primary grade.

  (4) Special rule

    The determinations of the Director of the Census under this subsection shall be effective upon publication in the Federal Register and shall not be subject to review in any court.

(c) Requirement of voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials and ballots in minority language

  Whenever any State or political subdivision subject to the prohibition of subsection (b) 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 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 predominant 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.

(d) Action for declaratory judgment permitting English-only materials

  Any State or political subdivision subject to the prohibition of subsection (b) of this section, which seeks to provide English-only registration or voting materials or information, including ballots, may file an action against the United States in the United States District Court for a declaratory judgment permitting such provision. The court shall grant the requested relief if it determines that the illiteracy rate of the applicable language minority group within the State or political subdivision is equal to or less than the national illiteracy rate.

(e) Definitions

  For purposes of this section, the term “language minorities” or “language minority group” means persons who are American Indian, Asian American, Alaskan Natives, or of Spanish heritage.

(Pub. L. 89-110, title II, §203, as added Pub. L. 94-73, title III, §301, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 402; amended Pub. L. 97-205, §§2(d), 4, June 29, 1982, 96 Stat. 134; Pub. L. 102-344, §2, Aug. 26, 1992, 106 Stat. 921; Pub. L. 109-246, §§7, 8, July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 581.)

Amendments

  2006-Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 109-246, §7, substituted “2032” for “2007”.

  Subsec. (b)(2)(A). Pub. L. 109-246, §8, substituted “the 2010 American Community Survey census data and subsequent American Community Survey data in 5-year increments, or comparable census data” for “census data” in introductory provisions.

  1992-Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 102-344 amended subsec. (b) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (b) read as follows: “Prior to August 6, 1992, no State or political subdivision shall provide registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots, only in the English language if the Director of the Census determines (i) that more than 5 percent of the citizens of voting age of such State or political subdivision are members of a single language minority and (ii) that the illiteracy rate of such persons as a group is higher than the national illiteracy rate: Provided, That the prohibitions of this subsection shall not apply in any political subdivision which has less than five percent voting age citizens of each language minority which comprises over five percent of the statewide population of voting age citizens. For purposes of this subsection, illiteracy means the failure to complete the fifth primary grade. The determinations of the Director of the Census under this subsection shall be effective upon publication in the Federal Register and shall not be subject to review in any court.”

  1982-Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 97-205, §4, substituted “Prior to August 6, 1992” for “Prior to August 6, 1985”.

Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 97-205, §2(d), inserted “and American Indians” after “Alaskan natives”.

Effective Date of 1982 Amendment

  Amendment by 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.

Extension to August 6, 1992, of Prohibition on Use of Voting Instructions, Assistance, or Other Materials or Information in English Only; Limitations Based on 1980 Census and Subsequent Census Data

  Section 4 of Pub. L. 97-205 provided in part that: “[T]he extension made by this section [amending subsec. (b) of this section] shall apply only to determinations made by the Director of the Census under clause (i) of section 203(b) [subsec. (b)(i) of this section] for members of a single language minority who do not speak or understand English adequately enough to participate in the electoral process when such a determination can be made by the Director of the Census based on the 1980 and subsequent census data.”

§1973aa-2. Judicial relief; civil actions by the Attorney General; three-judge district court; appeal to Supreme Court

  Whenever the Attorney General has reason to believe that a State or political subdivision (a) has enacted or is seeking to administer any test or device as a prerequisite to voting in violation of the prohibition contained in section 1973aa of this title, or (b) undertakes to deny the right to vote in any election in violation of section 1973aa-1 or 1973aa-1a of this title, he may institute for the United States, or in the name of the United States, an action in a district court of the United States, in accordance with sections 1391 through 1393 of title 28, for a restraining order, a preliminary or permanent injunction, or such other order as he deems appropriate. An action under 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 be to the Supreme Court.

(Pub. L. 89-110, title II, §204, formerly §203, as added Pub. L. 91-285, §6, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 317; renumbered §204 and amended Pub. L. 94-73, title III, §§302, 303, title IV, §406, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 403, 405.)

References in Text

  Section 1393 of title 28, referred to in text, was repealed by Pub. L. 100-702, title X, §1001(a), Nov. 19, 1988, 102 Stat. 4664.

Amendments

  1975-Pub. L. 94-73 inserted reference to section 1973aa-1a of this title and substituted reference to section 2284 of title 28 for reference to section 2282 of title 28.

§1973aa-3. Penalty

  Whoever shall deprive or attempt to deprive any person of any right secured by section 1973aa, 1973aa-1, or 1973aa-1a of this title shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(Pub. L. 89-110, title II, §205, formerly §204, as added Pub. L. 91-285, §6, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 317; renumbered §205 and amended Pub. L. 94-73, title III, §§302, 304, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 403.)

Amendments

  1975-Pub. L. 94-73 inserted reference to section 1973aa-1a of this title.

§1973aa-4. Separability

  If any provision of subchapters I-A to I-C of this chapter or the application of any provision thereof to any person or circumstance is judicially determined to be invalid, the remainder of subchapters I-A to I-C of this chapter or the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected by such determination.

(Pub. L. 89-110, title II, §206, formerly §205, as added Pub. L. 91-285, §6, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 318; renumbered §206, Pub. L. 94-73, title III, §302, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 403.)

§1973aa-5. Survey to compile registration and voting statistics

(a) Elections to House of Representatives and elections designated by United States Commission on Civil Rights

  Congress hereby directs the Director of the Census forthwith to conduct a survey to compile registration and voting statistics: (i) in every State or political subdivision with respect to which the prohibitions of section 1973b(a) of this title are in effect, for every statewide general election for Members of the United States House of Representatives after January 1, 1974; and (ii) in every State or political subdivision for any election designated by the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Such surveys shall only include a count of citizens of voting age, race or color, and national origin, and a determination of the extent to which such persons are registered to vote and have voted in the elections surveyed.

(b) Prohibition against compulsion to disclose personal data; advice of rights

  In any survey under subsection (a) of this section no person shall be compelled to disclose his race, color, national origin, political party affiliation, or how he voted (or the reasons therefor), nor shall any penalty be imposed for his failure or refusal to make such disclosures. Every person interrogated orally, by written survey or questionnaire, or by any other means with respect to such information shall be fully advised of his right to fail or refuse to furnish such information.

(c) Report to Congress

  The Director of the Census shall, at the earliest practicable time, report to the Congress the results of every survey conducted pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section.

(d) Confidentiality of information; penalties

  The provisions of section 9 and chapter 7 of title 13 shall apply to any survey, collection, or compilation of registration and voting statistics carried out under subsection (a) of this section.

(Pub. L. 89-110, title II, §207, as added Pub. L. 94-73, title IV, §403, Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 404.)

§1973aa-6. Voting assistance for blind, disabled or illiterate persons

  Any voter who requires assistance to vote by reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer or agent of that employer or officer or agent of the voter's union.

(Pub. L. 89-110, title II, §208, as added Pub. L. 97-205, §5, June 29, 1982, 96 Stat. 135.)

Effective Date

  Section 5 of Pub. L. 97-205 provided that this section is effective Jan. 1, 1984.

General Information Voting Section
Contact

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