Does the U.S. Department of Justice have ulterior motives for allowing New Hampshire to be released from a portion of the Voting Rights Act? That’s the theory being advanced by some conservative groups, including The Center for Individual Rights (CIR). Headquartered in Washington, D.C., CIR is questioning the motives behind a decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to release New Hampshire from Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. A key piece of civil rights legislation, the Voting Rights Act of 1964 guarantees that voters aren’t disenfranchised on account of race or color. It also contains several special provisions that impose stringent federal oversight in certain areas of the country, known as “covered jurisdictions.”
Ten New Hampshire towns, including Newington, have long been covered by Section 5. In these communities, no voting changes are legally enforceable until approved either by federal judges or the U.S. Attorney General.
That means changes to election laws that affect any of these 10 towns — ranging from a change in polling hours to a new statewide voting law — must be reviewed by federal officials.
New Hampshire filed a lawsuit in November asking the U.S. Department of Justice to grant the state a so-called “bailout” from the provisions of Section 5.
USDOJ agreed in December, but the deal must still be approved by federal judges.
Last month, The Center for Individual Rights filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit, hoping to block New Hampshire’s bailout request.