The Civil Rights Division has the responsibility for enforcement of provisions of the Voting Rights Act that seek to ensure that
redistricting plans do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in a protected language minority group.
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is a nationwide prohibition against voting practices and procedures, including redistricting plans that discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group. It prohibits not only election-related practices and procedures that are intended to be racially discriminatory, but also those that are shown to have a racially discriminatory result. The United States and private parties may file a lawsuit against a redistricting plan alleging that it violates Section 2.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act
Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, a change affecting voting, such as a redistricting plan, may not be used by a covered jurisdiction unless that jurisdiction can show that the change has neither a discriminatory purpose nor will have a discriminatory effect. This can be done in one of two ways. The jurisdiction can file an action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Unless the court determines that the jurisdiction has established the absence of both a discriminatory purpose and effect, the change cannot be implemented. As an alternative, the change can be submitted to the Attorney General. Unless the Attorney General informs the jurisdiction that it has not met its burden of showing the absence of both a discriminatory and effect within 60 days after receipt of a completed submission, the jurisdiction is free to use the change.
On June 25, 2013, the United States Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to use the
coverage formula in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act to determine which jurisdictions are
subject to the preclearance requirement of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v. Holder,
570 U.S. ___, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (U.S. June 25, 2013) (No. 12-96). The Supreme Court did not rule on the
constitutionality of Section 5 itself. The effect of the Shelby County decision is that the
jurisdictions identified by the coverage formula in Section 4(b) no longer need to seek preclearance
for the new voting changes, unless they are covered by a separate court order entered under Section 3(c) of
the Voting Rights Act.
You can review the Status of Statewide Redistricting Plans.
Policy and Guidance
To assist jurisdictions required to comply with Section 5 of the Act, the Attorney General has issued a set of Procedures for the Administration of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is also published at 28 C.F.R., Part 51. On April 15, 2011, the Department issued a
final rule implementing revisions to several sections of the procedures.
On February 9, 2011, the Division issued Guidance Concerning Redistricting Under Section 5
of the Voting Rights Act.