3Center or American Progress | 5 Reasons Why Section 5 o the Voting Rights Act Enhances Our Democracy
2. Section 5 safeguards local elections
Te eliminaion o Secion 5 may have he mos devasaing consequences in small ciiesand communiies where individuals are less likely o liigae discriminaory changes. Secion5 requires covered jurisdicions o submi requess or even minor changes a he local leveland proecs agains discriminaory pracices ha would oherwise go unnoiced.
•In 2011 he Pit Couny School Disric in Norh Carolina decided o reduce he num- ber o school board members rom 12 o 7 and shoren heir erms in oce. Secion 5 blocked he change rom going ino eec afer he Deparmen o Jusice deerminedha such a change would decrease represenaion o minoriy-preerred candidaes onhe school board.
•In Clinon, Mississippi, where 34 percen o he populaion is Arican American, heciy proposed o is six-member council a redisricing plan ha did no include asingle ward where Arican American voers had he power o elec candidaes o heirchoice. Racially polarized voing is sill a problem in Mississippi, and he redisricingplan ensured here was no longer a majoriy Arican American ward. Te Deparmeno Jusice ound reliable evidence ha he ciy had aced wih a racially discriminaory purpose and blocked he change rom going ino eec in 2011.
3. Section 5 prevents discrimination where race is still a barrier
Under he Voing Righs Ac, jurisdicions ha mus seek preclearance have a hisory o racial discriminaion in voing pracices, and here is sill evidence ha racial discrimina-ion is prevalen in Secion 5-covered jurisdicions. Mos o he saes ully covered underSecion 5 have he highes Arican American populaions in he counry, which shouldmean ha Arican Americans are srongly represened in he governmen. Bu ha isunorunaely no he case. Arican Americans are sill signicanly underrepresened in sae legislaures, inCongress, and in saewide oces such as governor and U.S. Senae posiions. Where Arican Americans do serve in public oce, hey are eleced in disrics ha are majoriy minoriy voers.
Racially polarized voing such as his indicaes ha race is sill a acorin how people voe. (see Figure 2 on ollowing page)•Mississippi, which is nearly 40 percen Arican American—he highes populaiono Arican Americans in any sae in he counry
—has never eleced an Arican American governor. Tere is one Arican American currenly in Congress who repre-sens Jackson, Mississippi, which is more han 60 percen Arican American.
•Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, Georgia, and Souh Carolina lead he counry in beinghe mos underrepresened when i comes o Arican Americans in he sae legislaure.