The Civil Rights Division occupies several unique roles in that redistricting process. Each, however, has the same focus: that the redistricting does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in a protected language minority group. We rely on two statutes to ensure that the redistricting process and the plans that result from that process comply with the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act
Section 2 of the 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 impact. 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
In those areas subject to Section 5's requirements, a change affecting voting, such as a redistricting plan, may not be used 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.
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.