Enforcing Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act

Michael K. Fauntroy

in The Oxford Handbook of Southern Politics

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195381948
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Enforcing Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act


Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, known as the preclearance provision, is a major factor in its success and has proven to be a major catalyst in creating a legal and administrative framework to ensure that new and existing changes in electoral administration do not undermine the purpose of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). Preclearance requires covered jurisdictions to seek prior approval from the Department of Justice or the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., before implementing any changes regarding its electoral processes. This article uses Department of Justice data, extant literature, and the public record to explore Section 5: its evolution, enforcement trends, and legal challenges to its legitimacy. Particular attention is devoted to examining the extent to which Section 5 enforcement decisions during the Bush administration were driven by ideological concerns rather than legal issues.

Keywords: Voting Rights Act; southern politics; electoral processes; Section 5 enforcement; administrative framework; electoral administration

Article.  8567 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics

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