Justice Department Issues Guidance on Federal Statutes Regarding Redistricting and Methods for Electing Public Officials
Today the U.S. Department of Justice announced the release of a guidance document to ensure state, county, and municipal governments comply with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act concerning redistricting maps and methods of electing governmental bodies following the release of the 2020 Census redistricting data.
“The right to vote is the right from which all other rights ultimately flow,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Discriminatory redistricting schemes or election practices threaten that fundamental right and are illegal. The guidance issued today makes clear that jurisdictions must abide by federal laws when redrawing their legislative maps and that the Justice Department will vigilantly assess jurisdictions’ compliance with those laws during the redistricting cycle.”
“Our goal this redistricting season is simple: to ensure that new maps for city councils, school boards, county commissions, state legislatures, Congressional house seats and more do not discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in a protected language minority group,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice is using every tool in our arsenal to protect the right to vote for all Americans and to ensure that officials comply with federal voting laws during the decennial redistricting cycle now underway. This official guidance helps jurisdictions comply with the Voting Rights Act when redrawing electoral maps to ensure that all people have an equal and fair opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.”
The guidance document discusses how the department will conduct its review of these redistricting plans and methods of electing governmental bodies to evaluate compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The guidance document also describes how the department applies well-established case law while investigating and bringing enforcement actions under Section 2.
Today’s announcement follows Attorney General Garland’s recent commitment to expand the Justice Department’s efforts to safeguard voting rights. For a list of the department’s actions to protect voting rights, click here.
More information about the Voting Rights Act and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice’s website at www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot.
Members of the public are encouraged to send any complaints or comments regarding possible violations of the federal voting rights laws to the Voting Section. This can include complaints or comments about methods of election or districting plans that may violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Complaints and comments about discriminatory voting practices may be reported to the Voting Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931.
For the guidance document on redistricting, click here.