Tiny Town's Move May Redefine Voting Rights Act

Provision in 1965 act prevents moving polling station
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 28, 2009 9:27 AM CDT
A group of voters lining up outside the polling station in Peachtree, Alabama, a year after the Voting Rights Act was passed.    (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – A Supreme Court case may soon bring about a momentous change in the nation's voting laws, all because a Texas town of 3,500 moved a polling station three blocks, the Wall Street Journal reports. A local official made the switch to a more convenient location, galled that he needed the permission of the Justice Department because of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The measure requires such permission for any change in election procedures in areas where minority voters have historically been silenced.

The case of the Austin suburb of Canyon Creek was picked up by conservative activists battling to quash Section 5 of the Act, a critical civil rights weapon originally set to last only 5 years. It keeps being renewed, however, the last time by George W. Bush in 2006. “The law is basically stuck in the 1960s,” says a conservative lawyer. But liberals say it remains crucial. “It isn't as though racism magically disappears,” notes another attorney.