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Published on Friday, February 2, 2018

Voting Rights Act bill scheduled for committee action on Wednesday

SB 6002 is scheduled for action by the House State Government, Elections & IT Committee at 8 am on Wednesday, February 7. Because this bill moved so fast at the start of session, the next cutoff date that applies is February 23, when it needs to pass out of its current House committee, although it could get to the House floor for consideration prior to that.

AWC has been actively engaged with House legislators in discussing ways to improve this bill by reducing the chance for unintended consequences and improving the clarity of language that pertains to implementation. AWC is in focused discussions to support an increase in the current 1,000 population threshold in the bill. As written, the bill would only exempt cities under 1,000 people. AWC has offered suggestions to provide a more tailored metric to achieve the bill’s policy goals. For example, additional or replacement threshold data using voting age population based on census information, the number of registered voters, a certain percentage of minority populations, or some combination of these.

AWC’s other suggestions on ways to improve the bill are summarized as follows:

  • Clarify that only a local voter can bring a notice or a suit
  • Require the notice to include a description of the problem
  • Require a showing of actual lack of opportunity of the protected class for a violation
  • Clarify what constitutes “working in good faith” during the notice period
  • Clarify the notice requirements if a significant segment of the community has limited English proficiency
  • Allow the possibility that the jurisdiction’s electoral process complies with the Act and can be approved by a court order – in other words, a violation is not presumed in every case
  • Allow additional time if a jurisdiction receives two or more notices with materially different proposed remedies

If you have concerns about this bill and you haven’t already contacted your legislator, now is the time to do so. We are working hard on your behalf, but your individual stories and concerns are the most meaningful. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Dave Williams or Shannon McClelland.

Categories: General government