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24–121 PDF








OCTOBER 25, 2005

Serial No. 109–75

Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary

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Available via the World Wide Web: http://judiciary.house.gov


F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
DARRELL ISSA, California
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JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California

PHILIP G. KIKO, General Counsel-Chief of Staff
PERRY H. APELBAUM, Minority Chief Counsel

Subcommittee on the Constitution
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STEVE CHABOT, Ohio, Chairman

MARK GREEN, Wisconsin

JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina

PAUL B. TAYLOR, Chief Counsel
KIMBERLY BETZ, Full Committee Counsel
DAVID LACHMANN, Minority Professional Staff Member


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OCTOBER 25, 2005

    The Honorable Steve Chabot, a Representative in Congress from the State of Ohio, and Chairman, Subcommittee on the Constitution

    The Honorable Jerrold Nadler, a Representative in Congress from the State of New York, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on the Constitution

    The Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a Representative in Congress from the State of Michigan, and Member, Subcommittee on the Constitution

    The Honorable Howard Coble, a Representative in Congress from the State of North Carolina


Mr. Laughlin McDonald, Director, ACLU Voting Rights Panel
Oral Testimony
Prepared Statement

Mr. Robert Hunter, Voting Rights Litigator, Hunter, Higgins, Miles, Elam and Benjamin, P.L.L.C.
Oral Testimony
Prepared Statement

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Mr. Ronald Keith Gaddie, Professor of Political Science, The University of Oklahoma
Oral Testimony
Prepared Statement

Mr. Richard Engstrom, Professor, The University of New Orleans
Oral Testimony
Prepared Statement


Material Submitted for the Hearing Record

    Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a Representative in Congress from the State of Michigan and Member, Subcommittee on the Constitution

    Statement of the Honorable Linda T. Sánchez, a Representative in Congress from the State of California

    Appendix to the Statement of Laughlin McDonald: ''The Need to Expand the Coverage of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in Indian Country''

    Appendix to the Statement of Laughlin McDonald: ''Voting Rights Act in Indian Country: South Dakota, A Case Study'' American Indian Law Review, 29 Am. Indian L. Rev. 43

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    Appendix to the Statement of Robert Hunter: ''Racial Gerrymandering and the Voting Rights Act in North Carolina.'' Campbell Law Review, 9 Campbell L. Rev. 255

    Insterted into the Record by Chairman Chbot on October 26, 2005: Beer v. United States (425 U.S. 130, 96 S.Ct. 1357)



House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Committee on the Judiciary,
Washington, DC.

    The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:00 p.m., in Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable Steve Chabot (Chair of the Subcommittee) presiding.

    Mr. CHABOT. The Committee will come to order. I want to thank everyone for being here this afternoon. This is the Subcommittee on the Constitution and it is the fourth in a series of hearings this Committee has been holding examining the impact and the effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act over recent years. This afternoon, the Committee will continue its examination of section 5 and the preclearance requirements it imposes on covered jurisdictions.

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    Again, I would like to thank all of my colleagues for taking the time to give our oversight responsibilities the time and effort that they deserve.

    I might note that we did have two additional hearings scheduled for Thursday. It has come to my attention as a result of some scheduling conflicts and changes and difficulties, that those two hearings will not occur on Thursday and will in all likelihood be rescheduled for next week. And we will give further information as that becomes available.

    This afternoon we will focus on the Supreme Court's interpretation of section 5's preclearance requirements and the retrogressive standard for whether a change submitted by a covered jurisdiction, quote, ''has the purpose or effect of denying or abridging a citizen's right to vote on account of race, color, or language minority status,'' unquote.

    In 1976, the Supreme Court in the case of Beer v. United States set forth the standard for evaluating section 5 preclearance submissions. Recognizing that Congress intended section 5 to ensure that the ability of minority groups to elect candidates of choice and to participate in the political process did not backslide, the Court held that only those changes that would not lead to a retrogression in the positioning of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise could be precleared.

    Subsequent decisions and enforcement actions conducted by the Department of Justice over the years have further defined retrogression, in the context of section 5, as quote, ''a change in election law that results in an adverse effect on opportunities for a racial group to participate in the political process,'' unquote. Such had been the standard until 2003, when the Supreme Court in Georgia v. Ashcroft deviated from this approach.
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    The Georgia decision, which we will discuss later in the week, is unclear when defining what changes are retrogressive under section 5. It is clear that minority voters have progressed in the political process under the protection of the Voting Rights Act. However, Congress, in enacting section 5, intended not only to enable minority voters to register and cast ballots but to see their candidates of choice elected.

    During this hearing we will hear from our witnesses how minorities have made significant strides in the political process but yet how certain election or voting mechanisms that are submitted for preclearance under section 5 may dilute the full weight of the minority vote such to keep minorities from experiencing the full guarantee of the 15th amendment.

    And, again, we look very much forward to hearing our distinguished panel this afternoon. I will yield back the balance of my time and I will at this point recognize the gentleman from New York, the Ranking Member of this Subcommittee, Mr. Nadler, for the purpose of making an opening statement.

    Mr. NADLER. Thank you. I will be very brief in the opening statement. This is a continuation really of the hearing we started this morning on the continuing necessity for the section 5 preclearance requirements. We have heard this morning about some of the necessity. I assume we'll hear more from our witnesses now. And I look forward to hearing from those witnesses and to hearing a discussion of the effects on section 5 on some of these recent Supreme Court decisions and whether any action should be taken by——

    Mr. CONYERS. Would the gentleman yield to me?
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    Mr. NADLER. Yes, I will.

    Mr. CONYERS. And that will save me from trying to get 5 minutes. I wanted to associate myself with the remarks of the Chairman of the Subcommittee. I think he described this, as you did, quite appropriately.

    And I also wanted to thank the Chairman and you for observing the moment of silence for the late Rosa Louise Parks, our Civil Rights leader, the mother of the Civil Rights movement, with whom I had the honor of being associated with for several decades.

    And then I would put my statement in the record and thank the gentlemen for yielding to me.

    Mr. NADLER. I thank the gentlemen. And now I will simply conclude by saying I look forward to hearing the testimony of the witnesses. And I yield back.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. And, without objection, the statement will be entered into the record.

    Mr. CHABOT. Do any other Members of the Committee wish to make an opening statement this afternoon? If not, we will then proceed to the introduction of our witnesses. And again we want to thank all of you for being here this afternoon. And I might note that, without objection, all Members will have 5 legislative days to submit additional materials for the record.
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    Our first witness, will be Mr. Laughlin McDonald. Mr. McDonald has a long and distinguished career in voting rights litigation. He is the Director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, and in this capacity Mr. McDonald has played a leading role in eradicating discriminatory election practices since the original Voting Rights Act was passed back in 1965.

    Mr. McDonald also serves as the Executive Director of the Southern Regional Office of the ACLU, a position he has held since 1972. While at the Southern Regional Office, Mr. McDonald has won some of the most precedent-setting cases, including those that secured the principle of one person/one vote, ended the use of discriminatory at-large elections, and establishing the right of women to serve on juries.

    Mr. McDonald's prior employment included membership on the faculty of the University of North Carolina. And he also practiced in a private law practice. We are honored to have you here with us this afternoon, Mr. McDonald.

    Our second witness will be Mr. Robert Hunter, Junior. Mr. Hunter is a former chairman of the North Carolina Board of Elections and a partner in the law firm of Hunter, Higgins, Miles, Elam and Benjamin located in Greensboro, North Carolina.

    Mr. Hunter has litigated a number of redistricting and voting rights cases, including serving as the original attorney for the intervenors in one of the landmark section 2 voting rights cases, Gingles v. Thornburg. We welcome you here, Mr. Hunter.

    And I might like to very briefly recognize one of the other chairmen of the Judiciary Subcommittees, one of the strongest Members of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Howard Coble. And Howard, I know that you have a long and distinguished association with Mr. Hunter. I don't know if you want to mention anything relative to that.
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    Mr. COBLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I will be very brief. What I am about to say may diminish Mr. Hunter's stature in the eyes of some of my colleagues. It was probably he, more than any other person, who convinced me to become a congressional candidate back in the dark ages. But it is good to be here, Mr. Chairman.

    Mr. CHABOT. Without objection, the record will note the groans from the dias, all in good spirit I am sure.

    Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We appreciate your kind words.

    Our third witness will be Professor Ronald Keith Gaddie. Professor Gaddie is currently a professor of political science at the University of Oklahoma where he teaches research methods, southern politics, and electoral politics. In addition to teaching, Professor Gaddie serves as a litigation consultant in voting rights and redistricting cases, including those in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Professor Gaddie has written extensively on political reform, Southern politics, and voting. He is in the process of working on two books. And we welcome you here, Professor Gaddie.

    Our fourth and final witness will be Dr. Richard Engstrom. Dr. Engstrom is a noted speaker in election systems and minority rights and has testified extensively in voting rights cases since the 1970's. He currently is a resource professor of political science and endowed professor of African Studies at the University of New Orleans. As I said to the former Mayor Marc Morial when he testified before this Committee last week, our thoughts and prayers are with you and the other citizens of New Orleans in the trying times that you have had of late. And we thank you very much for being here and testifying today.
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    As I said, we have a very distinguished panel here this afternoon, and as I explained to the previous panel this morning, we have a lighting system here that helps us keep on track relative to how long you testify. We have what is called the 5-minute rule and the clocks will keep you on time there. It will be on for 4 minutes green. It will turn to yellow, let you know you have 1 minute to wrap up. When it goes red, that means your 5 minutes is up. We won't gavel you down immediately, but we would ask you to keep within that 5-minute time frame as much as possible.

    It is also the practice of the Committee to swear in all witnesses appearing before it, so if you would not mind, if you could all please stand and raise your right hands.

    [Witnesses sworn.]

    Mr. CHABOT. All witnesses have indicated in the affirmative and we'll now hear from our first witness. Mr. McDonald you're now recognized for 5 minutes.


    Mr. MCDONALD. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for inviting me to appear and share my thoughts on the need to continue section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. As you might imagine, I have attended a number of conferences recently on the issue of extension of the Voting Rights Act, and I have been struck with the fact that invariably someone will say we don't need section 5 anymore because Bull Connor is dead. Well I've always found that to be simple-minded in the extreme. Bull Connor is dead, but so is Thomas Jefferson, so is George Washington, so is my own grandfather, so is William Tecumseh Sherman, so is William Shakespeare, and the list goes on and on. Simply because all of these people are dead, it does not mean that they are erased from memory and history, that their legacies no longer exist, that they do not influence the way we think and act. The past continues to inform the present.
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    There is, in fact, abundant modern-day evidence showing that section 5 is still needed in this country and that the right to vote is still in jeopardy. And one of those examples involves Charleston County, South Carolina, which prides itself on its aristocratic traditions and its civility. But in a 2004—not 1904—but in a 2004 opinion, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a decision in the District Court invalidating Charleston County's at-large elections on the grounds that evidence presented by the parties supports the district court's conclusion that voting in Charleston County council elections is severely and characteristically polarized along racial lines. And it noted the rarity with which Blacks were elected to office of the county council, and that disproportionately few minorities had ever won any of the at-large elections in Charleston County.

    And the factors contributing to minority vote dilution found by the District Court included—and these are quotes—''the ongoing racial separation that exists, socially, economically, religiously, in housing, in business patterns, which makes it especially difficult for African-Americans to get votes from non-African-American voters.''

    And this is another quote: ''Significant evidence of intimidation and harassment of Blacks at the polls during the 1980's and 1990's and even as late as the 2000 general elections.'' And the court also found that there was evidence of subtle or overt racial appeals in campaigns. And one of the recurring examples of that was that White candidates would take out photographs, which they would run in the newspaper of their Black opponents, and they would darken their features to call attention to their race.

    After that decision was handed down by the district court invalidating that at-large system, the Legislature enacted the identical method of elections for the County Board of Education now, despite the fact that it had been held to dilute minority strength in violation of section 2. They, of course, had to submit that for preclearance to the Department of Justice, and the Department of Justice concluded that the proposed change would significantly impair the present ability of minority voters to elect candidates of choice to the school board, and they rejected it.
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    I would also call to the panel's attention a decision of a three-judge court that was issued in 2002 which involved statewide redistricting. There was a deadlock between the Governor and the Legislature. They couldn't enact a plan. There were several lawsuits filed asking the court to draw a plan. The Court held a lengthy hearing and drew its own plan. And here is one of the things the Court found. And the judges who were on that panel were, all three, South Carolinians—Judge William Traxler, Judge Matthew Perry, and Judge Joe Anderson. And they noted—and this is a quote: ''The disturbing fact of racially polarized voting has seen little change in the last decade. Voting in South Carolina continues to be racially polarized to a very high degree in all regions of the State. And in both primary and general elections statewide, Black citizens are a highly politically cohesive group, and Whites engage in significant White bloc voting.''

    Let me jump now to Indian country. There are hundreds of examples I could give. The time dictates that I only give one or two. As a result of the 1975 amendments of the Voting Rights Act, two counties in South Dakota, Todd and Shannon, which are home to the Pineridge and Rosebud Indian reservations, a large Sioux Indian population, became covered by section 5. Well, William Janklow at that time was the Attorney General of South Dakota. And he was outraged over the extension of section 5 to his State. In fact, he wrote a formal opinion to the South Dakota Secretary of State. He derided the 1975 law as a, ''facial absurdity.'' He was confident that it would be declared unconstitutional by the courts; but in the meantime he instructed the Secretary of State not to comply with section 5, and the Secretary of State in fact did not. There were more than 600 voting changes that were enacted and were not precleared under section 5.

    Which, can I just close by saying——
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    Mr. CHABOT. If you could summarize.

    Mr. MCDONALD. —that the other important reason we need section 5 is the deterrent effects. It is applied almost universally by the courts when they implement court-ordered plans. And in fact we are doing a number of reports. I have written a piece about voting rights in South Dakota which is in the American Indian Law Journal. I have also written a chapter for a book about all the litigation in Indian country that I could possibly find.

    And our office, which has done more than 300 lawsuits in the South and elsewhere since 1982, and we are preparing a report for that I want to share that with the Committee, because these three examples I have given you are the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

    Mr. CHABOT. If you would like to, you can refer those to the record, the actual documents themselves, and we will accept those into the record. Thank you very much Mr. McDonald.

    [The prepared statement of Mr. McDonald follows:]


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    Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Hunter you're recognized for 5 minutes.
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    Mr. HUNTER. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Nadler, Members of the Committee, thank you and the Subcommittee for inviting me to speak on the topic of reauthorization of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

    Since 1982 I have been involved in litigation in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Florida in redistricting and election law issues implementing the Voting Rights Act. I believe that my comments can be made most useful in the context of the most recent redistricting efforts in the Southeast, particularly in North and South Carolina.

    In the 2000 North Carolina redistricting cycle, I served as counsel to the North Carolina Republican Party plaintiffs in challenging the State legislative redistricting plan in State court. In the 2000 cycle in South Carolina, I served as counsel to the Senate Republican defendants in a suit which drafted a court-ordered plan for South Carolina elections.

    Now, the purpose of the hearing today is to talk about proof of discriminatory purpose or effect. In my view, the proof of discriminatory purpose or effect was easily understood by most voting rights practitioners in this field during the 1980's and 1990's. However, the meaning of these terms has been modified by thee recent Supreme Court decisions: State of Georgia v. Ashcroft; Reno v. Bossier Parish School Board I; and Bossier Parish School Board II.
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    As a practical matter, the effect of most of these Supreme Court decisions was the elimination of section 2 analysis by the Attorney General and to eviscerate the ''intent'' or ''purpose'' prong of the Beer standard. The majority of the Supreme Court substituted an effects test as the sole measure of retrogression. This change has been incorporated in the Department of Justice regulations implementing the act, CFR 51.54 ''discriminatory effect.''

    In reauthorizing section 5, it is evident to me that most, if not all, of the minority districts which have been drafted in redistricting plans throughout the South, are a result of the preventive effects of section 5 and the desire on the part of jurisdictions to avoid section 2 litigation. However, it is also clear to me, as shown both in North and South Carolina litigations this year, that political elements within the South would seek to retrogress or backslide in their obligations to be racially fair in making redistricting decisions in the absence of reauthorization of section 5.

    The strongest example of this is in the Colleton County case, which Laughlin mentioned earlier, in South Carolina where the Governor vetoed redistricting plans and urged in lieu of effective minority district concentrations, weakened or bleached districts with minority voting age populations well below 45 percent in many areas. His expert witnesses urged these positions on the three-judge panel which properly rejected this idea.

    However, the Ashcroft case in Georgia, the case in Virginia, and the case in North Carolina offer equally vivid examples of this flawed idea.

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    The focus of the congressional inquiry should be on the community whose voting strength is being given legal protection from purposeful or effective discrimination.

    Where there is a systematic history of racially polarized voting and where without legal protection a minority community has not historically been able to consistently achieve constitutional parity with other racial groups, the group should be able to elect a candidate of its choice. Sharing that choice with non-group members is not equal opportunity but lessened opportunity.

    The focus on legislative action after redistricting suffers from this same point. It does little good in my opinion to ask questions about what legislative power a particular incumbent may get after an election because that focus is on an individual incumbent and not on the community affected.

    I realize this Committee faces a factual predicate for renewal of section 5 that its predecessors didn't face. I hope that you will examine the list of cases that have been brought successfully under section 2 in the South. But equally important is for this Committee to catalog those statutes which would spring to life if retrogression is not reauthorized.

    In lieu of the Supreme Court approach as indicated in Bossier I and II, I hope the Committee would consider placing the Garza v. County of Los Angeles standard as a desirable purpose approach, which I do not believe would involve itself in the issues raised in Ashcroft and Bossier I and Bossier II. If that were the legal standard, then I think that we would be able to understand in a clear and sufficient way the ''purpose'' prong that Congress originally intended section 5 to implement.
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    I see that my time is over. Thank you very much.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you.

    [The prepared statement of Mr. Hunter follows:]


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    Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Gaddie you're recognized for 5 minutes.


    Mr. GADDIE. Mr. Chairman, Representative Nadler, and distinguished Committee Members, my thanks for the invitation to appear before this panel. Dramatic changes in American politics have been witnessed in 40 years. Minority voter participation has increased substantially. And descriptive representation of racial and ethnic minorities has never been so widespread. Southern Blacks register and vote at rates as high or higher than Black voters and White voters in much of the Nation. There is a two-party system in the South which fosters Black political empowerment and office holding. However, this empowerment is realized as the party of choice for most African-Americans, the Democratic Party, has been relegated to minority status in legislatures of five section 5 States in the South.
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    My colleague, Charles Bullock of the University of Georgia, and I are completing a study on the progress of minority voter participation in the jurisdictions covered by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, supported by the American Enterprise Institute. As to our analysis, we have now completed initial analysis and are completing the write-up on three States: Georgia, Louisiana and South Carolina.

    Georgia shows unprecedented progress in voting rights for African-Americans, significant gains in voter participation, voter turnout, and the election of minority candidates when candidates of choice are evident. Black and White Democratic candidates are generally not distinguished by Caucasian voters. African-American candidates win statewide elections, and the Congressional delegation is actually better than proportional to the Black population as of the last Congressional election.

    In South Carolina, significant progress has been made in terms of participation and in the election of Black candidates to legislative office. Black candidates have not enjoyed success statewide, though this lack of success is more a function of the fall of the South Carolina Democratic Party than of the race of the candidate per se.

    Louisiana exhibits evidence of Black progress and voter participation through registration and voting. Black legislators are elected to the Congress and to the State legislature, though not in proportion to their numbers. Louisiana voting is such that the Black candidates running statewide have failed in their efforts. Racial polarization is insufficient to deny the election of Democrats in general who are very successful in statewide elections, but the success has not been obtained by African-Americans running statewide in the Pelican State.
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    How does this bear on section 5? Let me advance some questions to ponder. These observations come from an empirical social scientist, not a legal scholar, and therefore should be taken as such.

    One, after two generations of implementation, are the goals of the Voting Rights Act achieved? The answer is variable by State. But clearly Georgia exhibits progress that makes one wonder why the State continues to be covered by section 5. Other States also show dramatic and sustained progress, though Georgia is the most progressed of the original section 5 States.

    Two, has section 5 been twisted or altered by politics into a tool with which to advance party causes? Political motives for the implementation of the Voting Rights Act are evident in the record of behavior of national and State actors in the implementation of section 5 and in the redistricting process.

    Three, have the efforts to satisfy political goals and also the goals of the Voting Rights Act led to problematic or even illegal representative maps? Yes. The political circumstances that collided in the early 1990's led to illegal maps that were as much a product of the goals of parties rather than a pursuit of racial fairness in the implementation of the 15th amendment.

    Four, has the standard for satisfying retrogression been altered by practice in the interpretation of the Supreme Court to possibly result in unintended consequences? Again the answer is yes. In the recent controversial Texas congressional redistricting, this very problem appeared in arguments advanced by both political science experts and lawyers, though the argument that derives from this problematic interpretation was rejected by the presiding Federal judge; namely, the status of coalition districts with regard to retrogression or protection under the Voting Rights Act.
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    Five, and finally, do the circumstances of the empirical test advanced by the Court wherein minority candidates do not require minority-majority districts to prevail and minority political leaders endorse the use of coalition districts to, quote, pull, haul and trade in politics also indicate an environment where section 5 coverage is not warranted? Possibly yes. If we look at Georgia, where minority voters register and turn out at a rate higher than Whites, where Black electoral success is evident at all levels of government, where expert testimonies show that a minority candidate can succeed in nonminority districts, we see a State where the need for preclearance has diminished or, if not, has passed. Thank you.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much.

    [The prepared statement of Mr. Gaddie follows:]


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    Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Engstrom, you are our final witness and you're recognized for 5 minutes.


    Mr. ENGSTROM. Thank you. I also appreciate very much, Mr. Chairman and Members of the distinguished Committee, this opportunity to appear before you today and discuss a future of the preclearance requirement of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
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    I have some prepared remarks. I am going to give a quick summary. But what I would like to point out right away is we have heard a lot of statistics already, the statistics about the increase in the African-American vote in the American South, and it can apply to other protected minorities elsewhere, and the subsequent increase in descriptive representation. One thing I want to point out right away, however, it is not a simple relationship. You increase minority votes, you increase minority representation, because those minority votes have to be channeled through an election system, and the increase in representation didn't—did lag behind the increase in minority votes largely because it took time for a number of majority-minority districts to be created.

    And the reason we have the descriptive representation is not just because of the increased Black vote, but also the increased number of majority-minority or near majority-minority districts that have been created to allow that vote to be converted into descriptive representation.

    But what I want to point out is those districts are crucial all right, and the reason those districts are crucial is because racially polarized voting continues to persist in the American South and certainly no doubt in other jurisdictions across the country.

    The Voting Rights Act was—the reason why the Voting Rights Act was renewed, or at least one reason it was renewed in 1970, 1975, and again in 1982, was because racially polarized voting continued to exist. And unfortunately we are—23 years later, racially polarized voting continues to exist in the American South as well today.

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    I am going to testify about some of my work as a consultant, or my testimony will be informed by my work as a consultant in redistricting process for State legislators, for individual members working for political parties, whatever, and alsoas an expert witness. That work has covered both major political parties. That work has also covered—and plaintiffs and defendants in voting rights litigation.

    One thing I want to do is to document, at least in one State as an example, and only as an example, the existence of racially polarized voting today. The State is going to be the State of Louisiana, my home State. I didn't choose Louisiana because it is my home State, and I didn't choose Louisiana because it is in any way unique in terms of the existence of racially polarized voting. But what I want to do is look at data. I chose Louisiana because there is an extensive amount of data concerning a large number of elections, over a large number of different offices, that have been analyzed for the purpose of determining the extent to which racially polarized voting was present in those elections.

    That work is my own work. It was done as an expert witness in the case called Louisiana House of Representatives v. Ashcroft, a section 5 case. This case did not go to trial. The State did—it was settled when changes were made in the map that were favorable to minorities in Louisiana. But I want to use this as a demonstration.

    In the tables that are part of my written testimony you will see lots of numbers. And basically, let me say quickly because of time, I have used three different procedures, all three commonly used in the social sciences. I have used all the procedures I know to study past elections and look at the extent to which race—racial divisions may be present.

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    These are 90 elections. They are all biracial elections. These are all elections in which there is at least a Black candidate and a White candidate or at least a non-Black candidate competing. Those types of elections are generally considered the most probative.

    I can see my time is lapsing so let me go right to the results. And these results I can summarize, and the summary is on page 9 of my report, but out of these 90 elections, 78, that is 86.7 percent, showed racial divisions in candidate preferences, and normally to quite high levels, all right, not just some preference, but extraordinarily strong preferences of one group favoring candidates different from the other.

    So that is 86.7 percent. The time frame for this study was 1991 to 2002, the entire time in which we were existing under the previous map in Louisiana. And time frame made no difference under the extent to which there was racially polarized voting. The office made no difference. It didn't matter if we are talking about State Rep, State Senator, Governor, Mayor, Register of Conveyances, Recorder of Mortgages, or Traffic Court Judge. Racially polarized voting was there across basically all the offices that were contested.

    So this is designed to give you an idea of how intense and persistent and prevalent racially polarized voting may be in the South.

    I want to wrap up quickly by saying, again, Louisiana is not unique. I can point to some court cases, post 2000 representational districting cases. South Carolina has been mentioned by the court, and South Carolina Federal courts said voting in South Carolina continues to be racially polarized to a very high degree. Courts in Texas found racially polarized voting throughout the State between Latinos and non-Latinos. In the Florida case they found a substantial degree of racially polarized voting in South Florida and Northeast Florida. And even the Georgia case, the case that you've heard referenced several times already, please let me note that in Georgia the Federal district court did find that in the three State Senate districts at issue in the preclearance litigation, there was, quote, highly racially polarized voting in the proposed districts. And that was a conclusion that was not disturbed by the U.S. Supreme Court when it reviewed the case. The Court said the district court needed to expand its inquiry, but in no way touched its findings on racially polarized voting.
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    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much.

    [The prepared statement of Mr. Engstrom follows:]


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    Mr. CHABOT. The Members of the Committee will now have 5 minutes to ask questions, and I yield myself 5 minutes for that purpose. And this question I would address to each of the panel members, and we will begin with you, Mr. McDonald.

    How effective is the current retrogression standard to protect and prevent against minority backsliding?

    Mr. MCDONALD. Well, there is no question that there is some deterrent effect. The State of Georgia, for example, just this year redistricted its congressional delegation. And before it did so, it adopted a resolution saying that it must comply with section 5. And the plan that it ultimately adopted didn't change the Black voting age population in the two districts that were majority Black and in the two that were majority—barely majority White. They did not affect or reduce at all the Black voting age population, so we know there is a deterrent effect.

    The City of Albany, Georgia, after the 2000 census enacted a redistricting plan for the city. And it was submitted for preclearance. The Department of Justice objected on the grounds that there was evidence that it was animated by purposeful discrimination to limit the opportunities of minorities. So it continues to have an actual impact and a deterrent effect. But I think it is also the case that section 5 has been weakened by a couple of recent Supreme Court decisions, what is called Bossier II, which involves an objection on the purpose grounds can only be made if something has a retrogressive purpose.
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    I just remember in 1982 the State of Georgia enacted a plan with a discriminatory purpose, but it was not retrogressive because they actually increased the Black population in district 5. Julian Bond was in the Senate and submitted a plan creating like a 69 percent Black district. It got to the House. Joe McWilson—I hate to speak in the language that he uses—but the N word was part of his every day vocabulary. He told his colleagues on the House side, quote, ''I am not going to draw any nigger districts,'' end quote.

    So the plan that they ended up with was not retrogressive if it didn't make Blacks worse off because it slightly increased the Black population based on the benchmark plan; but if Bossier II had been in effect, arguably that would not have been objectionable because the purpose was not to make Blacks worse off. It was actually—their percent in the Fifth District was actually increased. I think that's an absurd result. And I really think that the Congress ought to take very seriously the problems of Bossier II.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. Mr. Hunter.

    Mr. HUNTER. I would like to say I agree with Laughlin about the effects of the most recent Supreme Court decisions. I know that if I were to compare the 1990 review of, say, the North Carolina or South Carolina or Florida section 5 preclearance review that was—given the legislative plans at that time—with the review that the Justice Department gave the similar plans in 2000, the review was far more rigorous and vigorous in the 1990's than it is today.

    I think that is a direct result of these three cases and the challenge is on largely federalism grounds I think, to the implementation of section 5. And I think it is important to remember that the 14th and 15th amendments, which are the enforcement powers, and the Republican form of government section of the Constitution, are really antifederalism-type implementations. There are amendments to federalism to allow national power to work its will.
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    So I certainly agree that where you have an agreement among incumbents to keep emerging minority districts or to prevent new districts from being drawn, then I think you have a problem of intentional discrimination without a retrogressive effect, not just, as Judge Scalia says, an incompetent retrogressor.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. My time is running out. Mr. Gaddie.

    Mr. GADDIE. Mr. Chairman, I would agree with my colleagues that the most recent decisions have altered or potentially altered the effectiveness of section 5 and section 5 has been critical to advancing minority representation. I also agree with my colleague, Dr. Engstrom, that without those new minority-majority districts enacted in the 1990's, you would not have seen those initial advancements in minority representation.

    That being said, to the current state of section 5 as a social scientist, I have three concerns with regard to its current status.

    One is how do we describe retrogression. If we consider coalition districts in the process of assessing retrogression or non-retrogression, 10 years from now we will have to ask the question, how do we count those coalition districts in creating the new baseline? These are not minority-majority districts, but coalition districts that might be counted toward establishing non-retrogression. How do we treat them down the road?

    This leads to the question of how do we describe representation. Is it sufficient to have access to the process to coalesce, to elect a member from a party? Or is what matters the election of the candidate of choice from the community from which those votes are coming? Where does the obligation to pull, haul, and trade get balanced against the guarantees of access and descriptive representation in the process?
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    For social scientists, we have a tough challenge which is, how do we weigh a coalition district? If we were to apply the Ashcroft standard in 1991, we might not have created the new majority-minority districts that we did. So this standard has changed the measure of retrogression and the ability to assess it.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. My time has expired, but if you could answer briefly Mr. Engstrom.

    Mr. ENGSTROM. I think the only thing I would add is to stress the deterrent effect. I think the act has been effective. What the Georgia v. Ashcroft situation will be is yet to be played out. But I think when we look at how effective it has been, it has been effective. I don't think we can just count objections from the Justice Department. I do think we have to take into account the deterrent effect of the preclearance provision.

    And I can say as a consultant who has had a role in drawing maps and the process, that the section 5 looms seriously over political cartographers and decision makers when it comes to plans. And I can testify that I have seen districts changed in order to avoid retrogression and gain preclearance. Districts that had already been agreed upon in effect from the political end were changed in order to satisfy the law.

    Mr. CHABOT. If you could provide those to the Committee, we would like to have that; any information, papers, reports, graphs, anything you might have. If you can provide those, not necessarily right now, but——

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    Mr. ENGSTROM. The consulting work often is, I don't know that I am privileged—I can say the results I cannot——

    Mr. CHABOT. To the extent that you're able to provide it, we would appreciate it. If you can't, we understand.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you very much. My time has expired.

    The gentleman from New York, Mr. Nadler, has 5 minutes.

    Mr. NADLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. At this time, with your permission, I would like to defer my questions and yield—not yield, but ask that the distinguished Ranking Member of the full Committee Mr. Conyers, has questions now.

    Mr. CHABOT. Absolutely. We will take your time back.

    Mr. NADLER. I take my time back.

    Mr. CHABOT. We will give Mr. Conyers your 5 minutes at this time.

    Mr. CONYERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr. Nadler. We really need a lot more than 5 minutes each, don't we?

    We have got so many things floating around in this panel and we have suddenly, after a lot of wonderful rhetoric in some other panels, we are down to some very serious questions. Namely, does Georgia v. Ashcroft need remedying in this new renewal and section 5 continuation? I hope everyone agrees with me that Bossier certainly does, and everyone here seems to support the reauthorization. But the question around section 5 is that should influence districts not be counted or not? Should they be counted or not? And that is where we get into some very difficult issues.
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    Do not be dismayed by the fact that times are changing and that the issues and the way we remedy them are changed, too.

    Should African-American influence be allowed to, as it were, unpack some of these districts where we used to need from 65 to 80 percent to elect an African-American, when now frequently considerably less is necessary.

    So this is where we come into this traditional issue. And I would like Mr. McDonald and Mr. Engstrom to quickly put your oar into those sets of issues that are floating around on the top. And then I would very much, very much like to hear from Mr. Hunter, Attorney Hunter, and Mr. Gaddie.

    Mr. MCDONALD. Mr. Conyers, I think that you don't go astray if you keep your eye on the basic right that the Voting Rights Act protects, and that is the equal right of covered minorities to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice. And I don't think that it serves the ultimate purpose of the Voting Rights Act to say that that standard is met if you can simply influence the election of candidates.

    I think one of the great ironies of the influence theory is that the whole Shaw-Miller cases were brought by White voters who were placed in White-influence districts. They were the minority White district, but they were 45, 46 percent of the population, and they could influence the election of candidates. And yet those White voters convinced the U.S. Supreme Court that putting them in White-influenced districts violated the 14th amendment. But yet people say, oh, it is okay for Black voters to be in Black-influence districts. Again, I keep my eye on what the fundamental right is.
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    Nobody supports packing, believe me. And people constantly talk about the Georgia v. Ashcroft decision and I think give the mistaken impression that the three Senate districts at issue, they were majority White districts, and that somehow the Black Caucus supported those districts. That is not factually correct. They were three majority Black districts, and I have talked to—if I can resort to hearsay—but I have talked to Tyrone Brooks who is the Chair of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials, and others, and they said they would never have supported a plan that abolished the majority Black districts. These were still majority Black districts, but they thought that nonetheless that Black voters still had the chance to elect candidates of choice.

    Mr. CONYERS. Mr. Engstrom.

    Mr. ENGSTROM. Let me say just quickly at the beginning, as I said earlier, we have to see what Georgia v. Ashcroft—how it plays out. We don't have a single court case that applies that. The Georgia case, when it went back on remand, Georgia changed the districts that were at issue. They didn't make a coalition or an influenced district argument. They got precleared simply in a previous way by increasing the African-American percentage in those three districts, and the Justices said we are satisfied.

    As to influenced districts, a couple quick things. One, I am disturbed by the fact, and I think Laughlin has pointed out, that it is a racially selective concept. This was clear vividly in Hayes v. Louisiana, one of the 1990 cases. But the Court in effect said any district with over 25, 30, percent basically Black voting-age population was a Black-influenced district. But yet the two Representatives that had districts that were about 55 percent were basically considered—these would be racial partisans. It is like it is a racially selective application that goes into one direction.
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    I also think the concept—and this is true in Georgia v. Ashcroft—is incredibly simplistic at this point in time. It just says in Georgia v. Ashcroft sometimes it is 20 percent, sometimes it is 25 percent, sometimes it is 30 percent. But in effect, the Court used those numbers and there was nothing to back them up. It is not just how many minorities; also, what are the other voters in that district like? Are they going to be available there for coalition politics or what?

    I can note one of the disturbing things in the Georgia case when the case was on remand. The State of Georgia identified 17 districts that were influenced districts, quote unquote, based on what they said was the O'Connor standard. But it was 25 percent Black voting-age population.

    After that election, when the legislature met, 7—over 40 percent of those districts—7 of the 17 were represented by White Republicans. Now, three of those districts, influenced districts, actually resulted in the election of Republicans. Four more resulted in the election of White Democrats who subsequently changed party.

    That is how influenced the minority was in their district, to become Republicans and allow the Republican Party to organize the Chamber and control it.

    Two of those—two of those districts were walkovers, no contest, at least in the general election. Two others were districts in which the White Democrat got over 90 percent of the African-American vote and less than a majority of the White vote, or the non-African-American vote. Yet despite in effect Blacks being pivotal to their election, they switched parties by the time the legislature was in session.
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    I don't think—we don't have a good handle on an influence district. We certainly can't go forward and say it is just some specific percentage of Blacks present in a district. We have to be far more serious about this concept than we have been to this point in time.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired. The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Feeney, is recognized for 5 minutes.

    Mr. FEENEY. I will, if I can back up on that, because I really think this is the gist of the question that is before the panel here today. We went from earlier this morning where Mr. Blum told us at first that there was no more Jim Crow-era segregationist intent anywhere in Georgia, and modified that to say no elected official with control over any process had that intent, which I still find remarkable. And we still have a huge difference between Mr. Gaddie and Mr. Blum on the one hand, the first witnesses to tell us, because we have got increased minority registration, participation, and election of candidates, that section 5 may no longer be necessary anywhere in the country, versus all the other testimony we have, both factual and anecdotal, which tends to go very much averse to that and just say that the techniques for purpose or effects that discriminate against participation to elect candidates of your choice have just become different, whether it is at-large voting, whether it is annexation, whether it is redistricting or other subtle techniques.

    But the problem we have with the Georgia v. Ashcroft case seems to be a real defining one for this Committee.

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    The problem with—you know, Bull Connor may be dead, but O'Connor is very much alive, and the standard is unenforceable because it is unintelligible. I think that what an influenced district is a very interesting question, and it will change from candidate to candidate and cycle to cycle and geographic area to geographic area. And even Mr. Gaddie I think agreed with that.

    For example, arguably African-Americans in the State of Alabama in the 1960's could influence the outcome of the race between George Wallace and Big Jim Folsom on the theory that influence means getting the candidate that is the lesser of two evils may be an important choice for African-Americans at the time. But I hope we aspire to better than that. And I know that if we are not going to allow retrogression, we expect better than that, as we define what these issues mean.

    And I think even the specifics of the Georgia v. Ashcroft case are very telling, because let's face it, there are minority voters in my community that will be very attractive in drawing White votes, even a majority of White votes. Maybe the instances we look at, some of the success candidates have had in Georgia or other areas anecdotally, there will be other minorities that are very highly acceptable and desirable in the minority community that may not be able to attract significant support from the White community. So I am interested, if we are not going to change the standards laid out by a narrow majority in Ashcroft, how do we define what influence means and isn't that a standard that evolves day to day, candidate to candidate, and geography to geography?

    Mr. Hunter, I will let you start and then ask the other panelists if they have an opinion as to how this standard, whether it is even enforceable, but I will leave with you this. You outlined the dramatic effects in terms of the number of minorities that are elected to office in North Carolina. In Florida for 110 years, we had no African-Americans, and only one Cuban-American ever represented the people of Florida in Congress. And I can say that for the most part, Floridians are grateful for the change, although they don't like some of the specific Congresspersons from our State.
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    But Mr. Hunter, do you think the standard in Ashcroft can ever be intelligible, let alone enforceable?

    Mr. HUNTER. I tried a case about the election of North Carolina judges, Superior Court judges, statewide called Martin v. Republican Party. It took 12 years to litigate an intentional discrimination against Republican voters in the State in the election of Superior Court judges. It was incredibly difficult. We finally won. It's the only political gerrymandering case that's ever been successful. It took us 12 years to prove it, and it has to do with this whole idea of influence.

    You know, influence is something that you get—I think when people confuse it they are talking about influencing in the election or influence subsequently when people get into a body or a chamber, and I think that's what Justice O'Connor proves. Proving legislative intent or influence is one of the most amorphous things you can possible prove. Is one legislator more influential than another? Is a coalition of Blacks and Whites more influential? Influenced to do what?

    I think it's a very difficult standard. It's not objective. It's not easily understood. It allows the Department of Justice or the three-judge panel in the District of Columbia to come up with differing results. Practitioners aren't going to understand it at all. I just think it's just such an amorphous concept.

    The second thing I want to say—and I'll just use Congressman Watt's district as an example because I'm from North Carolina and I happen to know it—I've never met an incumbent legislator who wanted an influence district. If I were to go to Congressman Watt and say, as minority legislators are wont to do—they're the ones being asked to have an influence district. If I were to go to Congressman Watt and say, good news, Congressman, your district has been selected to go from a majority Black district to an influence district, and we're only going to give you 40 percent of your core district and give you 60 percent or whatever percentage, and I've got a political scientist here who's real smart and he's going to tell you you can theoretically win in that and it will help your party later on, I don't think I'm going to be Mr. Watt's lawyer for very long.
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    I just don't think—incumbents don't want that. They want certainty. They want surety. Because their influence is what's important to them in the body after the next redistricting and after the election. So influence districts don't mean anything, is a theoretical matter to incumbents, and influence districts in the community at large are just so ephemeral, I don't know what it means.

    Mr. CHABOT. I believe the gentleman asked Mr. Gaddie also to respond as well. The gentleman's time has expired.

    Mr. FEENEY. With the indulgence of the Committee, maybe Mr. Engstrom has something to say as well.

    Mr. CHABOT. As well as Mr. Gaddie, you mean.

    Mr. ENGSTROM. I share the concern that, as I said earlier, we do not at this point have a handle on the concept of influence district. We don't really know what it is. We don't know how to measure it; and whether we're going to be able to measure it, say, by the 2010 round of redistricting is an open question. I'm not really persuaded that we're that close or whether we ever will be.

    There's another dimension to Georgia v. Ashcroft that I want to note. Just as influence district can be quite subjective—and I'll add another example. I don't mean to name a Member of Congress, but there's supposedly a Latino influence district in Texas. It's a district that elects a Latino Republican. The Latino Republican has never been supported by Latino voters in his district, never, and what the State did was simply go out, eliminate Latinos from his district, because that was starting to put him at risk, and go out and get more Anglo Republicans to replace Latino Democrats.
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    The court in Texas called that a Latino influence district. Well, if that's a Latino influence district, I think we can just ignore the concept completely. That is not a district in which the representative is likely to feel electorally accountable in a very serious way to the Latino voters.

    Let me add one other thing that disturbs me about Georgia v. Ashcroft—and I'm not a lawyer. Let me preface that. But, as I read it, I understand Justice O'Connor said the ultimate test or the ultimate standard was going to be the totality of the circumstances. Well, if we think influence district is an amorphous and vague concept, difficult to measure, what in the world are the totality of circumstances? Totality of circumstances is a test that leaves judicial discretion a mile wide, just like influence district, just like that concept does as well.

    So, again, lawyers may be able to tell you better how these standards will play out, but I am definitely pessimistic about the concept of influence district and being able to objectively measure that concept and work it into some kind of calculation or some kind of relationship that tells us whether these are valuable, beneficial trade-offs to actual opportunities to elect and hold electoral or hold representatives accountable.

    Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Gaddie, did you want to respond very briefly?

    Mr. GADDIE. I get a sense Dick may have cribbed some of my notes here, so I will be brief.

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    It is difficult to measure this thing, and this is the principal challenge that comes out of Ashcroft. Indeed it's difficult to measure performance in any instance because measuring a performing district varies by constituency.

    Professor Abstein in his testimony in Ashcroft noted that an African-American candidate had a fair chance of winning a district at 44.7 percent African-American VAP. He had a similar analysis in South Carolina that indicated a number of 47 percent African-American BAP. As I look at Representative Scott's district that he was initially elected from in 2002, this was a district that approached but did not meet this threshold.

    African-American candidates can win districts where there is not a majority of African-American voters. That being said, we will have to ascertain the threshold for every jurisdiction. We will have to use methods that have predictive error around them to try an ascertain the ability to perform.

    But there's a larger issue here, a representation issue. Our colleague, Carol Swain at Vanderbilt, has noted that Black representatives can respond to White constituencies, White representatives can respond to Black constituencies, but getting a proportional representation, are we supposed to do like the odds of a lottery and look at the proportion or contribution to the majority and ascertain if that proportion of the representation is being derived from the minority community? This may be one way to do it, but I'm not sure how we'd measure it. So we've been left with a vast uncertainty here, but let's forget about—let's remember part of the totality of circumstances.

    In Ashcroft, Justice O'Connor took note of the support of African-American legislators in the Georgia legislature for this map that pulled down African-American percentages in districts, that the consent of the representatives of that community was important to establishing the totality of circumstances.
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    Now if we have African-American representation being part of a majority that agrees that you can pull down percentages in terms of threshold and enter into coalition, we are back to the question I brought up earlier, how critical is section 5 to a State where African-American politicians feel confident in pulling down their percentages in their districts and where they have such power in the legislature to provide critical votes to the creation of redistricting maps?

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time is expired.

    The gentleman from New York, Mr. Nadler, is recognized for 5 minutes.

    Mr. NADLER. Mr. McDonald, do you want to answer that rhetorical question?

    Mr. MCDONALD. I would say two things. The first is that the three-judge court in the South Carolina case rejected the argument that 47 percent would comply with the non-retrogression standard of section 5. That testimony was rejected, and the court made a specific finding that in order to provide Black voters an equal opportunity to elect candidates of choice you had to have a majority of Black voting-age population or near majority.

    Mr. NADLER. Was that finding or that ruling in that decision for the circumstances of that case or of general applicability?

    Mr. MCDONALD. For the circumstances of that case.
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    Let me say one thing. The mere fact that legislators vote for something, whatever the compromises are, is not—cannot be dispositive. I would remind us all that during the reconstruction years Blacks who were members of Congressional or Constitutional Conventions and who served in the legislature voted for racially segregated schools. There were examples of voting for poll taxes. In Georgia, they voted to abolish locally elected government, plainly a racially motivated attempt to deprive Blacks.

    I mean, I don't think that insulates racially segregated schools and the poll tax from an independent review. There are a lot of decisions that are made politically, but the bottom line is that the Members of the Black Caucus would never have supported a redistricting plan that abolished the majority Black districts.

    Mr. NADLER. Thank you.

    Mr. Engstrom, we've been having a lot of discussion about crossover voting by White voters. Have you determined the effect of incumbency on racial Black voting behavior? I suspect it's obvious that crossover voting is more prevalent for incumbents than first-time candidates. You can look at initial elections of a number of candidates. I won't name them. I also suspect there's greater crossover at the Federal electoral level. What does crossover look like as elections get more local? Can you talk about that?

    Mr. ENGSTROM. Well, let me say, in terms of incumbency, what I have often seen is that the incumbency advantage is itself racially specific. I have seen much racially polarized voting in many elections in which there was an incumbent and in which there was racially polarized voting; and in many of those elections what happens is, if it's a White incumbent, Whites or non-African-Americans support that incumbent and often minorities do not. Likewise, if it's a minority incumbent, they are supported by the minority voters; and White or Anglo or non-minority voters don't share that preference. So incumbency doesn't explain as much as a lot of people think.
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    Now at the local level what I have found is at the local level you get—well, a lot of elections are high salients in which candidates' race and things are well-known by people, but in local elections there are some in which they're well-known and others in which they may not be as well-known. But still you have local candidates, and I think observations or understandings of the racial composition of a candidate pool are stronger at the local level.

    Now I did do research in Georgia v. Ashcroft which has been cited. I mean, it's part of my testimony. It's been cited by some to say that Georgia has changed a great deal, and what I found was a very distinct difference in crossover voting when it came to Statewide elections as opposed to local elections.

    Mr. NADLER. More crossover voting in the State?

    Mr. ENGSTROM. At the local level. When candidates ran Statewide—and keep in mind these may not be candidates from the local area. In most instances, they're not going to be candidates from the local area. There was a pronounced difference in Statewide elections in Georgia. Statewide elections were still racially polarized but not to the degree that the local elections I studied were.

    Mr. NADLER. The local elections are more racially polarized?

    Mr. ENGSTROM. The local ones were more than the Statewide. In the districts I studied.
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    Mr. NADLER. Do you have any idea what the explanation for that might be?

    Mr. ENGSTROM. I have not studied Georgia politics in the sense that I was asked that in court and I did not have really an answer for why. I've not revisited the issue except to acknowledge that that difference was present.

    There's some difference I suspect in visibility, in campaign strategy, endorsement.

    Mr. NADLER. Thank you.

    I have one more question. Mr. Blum in the earlier panel took the position that certain racial data from recent Georgia elections supports the case for letting section 5 lapse. Is his methodology for concluding that there's White crossover voting in Georgia correct and does that hold any significance for other States in your opinion?

    Mr. ENGSTROM. He was referencing a study I'm not familiar with.

    But one concern when you read a study like that and concern I will have is to see what kind of elections are being analyzed. Because one of the big distinctions is what role do White-on-White elections play. It's come up a little earlier today. Some people want to look at racially polarized voting on White-on-White elections and what they find is often minorities can get on the winning side on a White-on-White election. It doesn't mean they're electing a representative of your choice.
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    And I would qualify something that Laughlin said earlier. The purpose of the act is not to elect candidates of your choice, it's to elect representatives of your choice. And some arrangements——

    Mr. NADLER. What's the difference between representative of your choice and candidate of your choice?

    Mr. ENGSTROM. Quite significant, I think. The representative of choice may not be in the candidate pool because of the racial composition of the district. One reason we say Black on White, minority versus non-minority elections are more probative is because if they show a consistent preference for being represented by people from within your own group, then the opportunity to elect, if it's going to be close to equal, has to include the opportunity to elect from within your own group.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired. Did you want to finish up?

    Mr. ENGSTROM. I was just going to—I forgot my thoughts. I'm sorry.

    Mr. NADLER. You were saying that you were making a distinction of the representative versus candidate and you were saying obviously—I think what you were saying is that a candidate of your choice is not really a candidate of your choice if you didn't have a choice because the representative is not running.
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    Mr. ENGSTROM. Section 2 of the act, for example, says representative of your choice. Equal opportunity to elect representatives of choice. You're stuck with candidates. But the way electoral competition is structured can certainly affect the pool of candidates, and it can filter out who may be the representative of choice.

    What I think I was saying is study after study after study of bi-racial elections show that Blacks do indeed prefer to be represented by people from within their own group. That's a preference not shared by non-African-American voters.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired.

    The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Scott, is recognized for 5 minutes.

    Mr. SCOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    I want to get back to some of that, but let me ask a couple of quick questions first.

    At the previous hearing we heard evidence that in some areas the rate of voting, rate of registration was equal between Blacks and Whites in some areas and, therefore, the Voting Rights Act had done its duty and was no longer needed. We're talking about minority voters. Isn't it true that minority voters are still vulnerable to schemes, whether they're voting at the same level as everybody else or not? Mr. McDonald?

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    Mr. MCDONALD. The dramatic example of that, Mr. Scott, is what the State of Georgia did this year in 2005. It passed the most draconian photo-ID requirement for in-person voting of any State in the Union. I think maybe Indiana has a similar one.

    Mr. SCOTT. So that the rate of voting does not immunize you from schemes to diminish the effects of the votes that could be cast. And redistricting would be the same thing. You take the same number of votes, just divide them up.

    Mr. MCDONALD. Absolutely.

    Can I add one thing? I think this is an excellent gloss on what the State of Georgia did. Judge Murphy, the Federal District Court judge in Rome, Georgia, last week issued a preliminary injunction enjoining use of Georgia's photo ID requirement because you have got to pay $20 to get one and he said this was in the nature of a poll tax.

    So when people talk about new and subtle schemes to disfranchise, we're going back to history and getting one of the most discriminatory devices for excluding poor and Blacks and making that part of the modern-day scheme.

    Mr. SCOTT. One of the things we have to consider is whether we're going to reauthorize section 5. If we didn't have section 5 and one of these groups came up with a plan that is clearly retrogressive, isn't it true that the burden of proof would be, without section 5, would be on the victims of the discrimination?

    Mr. MCDONALD. Yes, sir.
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    Mr. SCOTT. If we didn't have section 5, the burden of expert witnesses and proving the case and the costs of litigation would be on the victims.

    Mr. MCDONALD. Yes.

    Mr. SCOTT. And wouldn't it be true that the benefits of the scheme would be enjoyed by the perpetrators of the scheme until such time as the victims could get themselves together, get into court and win a case?

    Mr. MCDONALD. Yes.

    Mr. SCOTT. Okay. If you have a case that something is being presented—and we've kind of talked about this a little bit—there's a clear section 2 violation, should it be precleared if it is not technically retrogressive? If they're no worse of off than before but you have a plan that is clearly retrogressive—not retrogressive but a clear violation of section 2, should the Attorney General preclear such a plan?

    Mr. MCDONALD. My personal view is no.

    Mr. SCOTT. Anybody think that the Attorney General, if there is a clear, by any objective standard, violation of section 2, should it be precleared under section 5? Anybody believe it?

    Mr. HUNTER. I would like to mention one thing. The Supreme Court has taken section 2 analysis out of section 5 preclearance material. But then in Bossier I—but then in the Ashcroft case they seem to put it back in and say we're supposed to do a totality of the circumstances——
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    Mr. SCOTT. But the benchmark is totality of the circumstances. You are no worse off than you were before.

    Mr. HUNTER. Yes. That's why it's confusing.

    Mr. SCOTT. It's a retrogression standard.

    Mr. HUNTER. Yes, sir. That's under the second case.

    The problem is, I don't know what intent to retrogress means. I know what discriminatory intent is, but intent to retrogress doesn't have a lot of meaning.

    Mr. SCOTT. Some of these are going to be hard. Redistricting is hard. Anybody who thinks you can redistrict in the abstract is a fool. Some areas you need—a candidate may need 40 or 50 percent African-American to win. Sometimes 60, 70 percent isn't enough. You have got to redistrict where you are, and there are different variables different places.

    My time is running short. Let me just ask a general question. In looking at the totality of the circumstances, if you have an African-American district where you have a reasonable shot at electing a candidate of choice and right beside that in that area where you can elect with a coalition a supportive candidate, is that—can you eliminate that influence district? I mean, should you be able—shouldn't you be able to count the influence district? Because there is a difference between an African-American sitting here by himself and an influence district, compared to sitting there without an influence district. In other words, can you gratuitously carve up that influence district and not be retrogressive? Assuming that you can have a reasonable coalition, a functioning coalition which will be different some places than others.
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    Mr. GADDIE. Representative Scott, this is really the great question mark.

    In Texas—and Professor Engstrom may recall this as well—Judge Higgenbotham had this issue put on him with regard to maintaining the integrity of Representative Frost's district, whether Representative Frost was a candidate of choice for the African-American community, his district which had no particular majority but was a majority of minorities. The Federal court said, no, this district is not protected from retrogression. But that's not also our issue. Because there's no obligation to create a coalition district. Likewise, there is no obligation to retain that one. If that district is a district where minority voters control the primary, where minority voters are able to coalesce with a minority of White voters and they're electing the representative of choice of their community, we have some very significant gray area to deal with. Our hope is you can give us guidance under the law, but we can't give you data to clarify that.

    Mr. SCOTT. Well, if in Georgia v. Ashcroft they diluted some districts in order to create influence districts, without counting influence districts, you couldn't do that because that would clearly just in those three districts be retrogression.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired.

    Mr. SCOTT. If I can just continue this.

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    Mr. CHABOT. Would you like an additional minute?

    The gentleman has an additional minute.

    Mr. SCOTT. You could not. Although there were still districts where the minority community can elect a candidate of its choice, the percentage of those districts was lower, and if those are the only three districts you're looking at, that would clearly be retrogression. But looking at the plan as a whole, because you considered the influence districts next door, the totality of the circumstances, whatever that means, met—concluded that the minority community was better off with the total map—excuse me, wasn't any worse off—since it's section 5, wasn't any worse off under the new map than it was under the old map even though in those individual districts there may have been retrogression.

    Now if you don't have that analysis, how would you not be stuck with overpacked districts and can never get out from under overpacked districts?

    Mr. ENGSTROM. I don't think the retrogression requirement says that you can't lower the percentages in a district. It depends on the context.

    Now the districts—the State Senate districts in Georgia were districts that were roughly around 55 African-American and voting age population.

    Mr. SCOTT. In the new map.

    Mr. ENGSTROM. In the baseline map.
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    Mr. SCOTT. The baseline map.

    Mr. ENGSTROM. The changes whittled them down to roughly 50 percent.

    Mr. SCOTT. If you didn't create any influence districts you're telling me you could do that gratuitously?

    Mr. ENGSTROM. I'm saying I believe that would be retrogressive. But if you're sitting with a district that's 80 percent African-American and you reduce it to 75 percent, I don't think that calls for an objection under the preclearance requirement. You have got an opportunity to elect—when you go from 75 to 80, as a general matter the opportunity doesn't change. Very little. So you don't have to look at it like a linear thing and you're always stuck with a packed district. You can reduce those district percentages without having a retrogressive consequence.

    So I don't think we're stuck with necessarily packing and ratcheting up, ratcheting up, ratcheting up after every census. I don't think that's the case at all. The Justice Department has made clear they don't have a standard that says you can't have a lower percentage in any of the district.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time expired a while ago.

    Mr. SCOTT. If I could—I'm not going to ask another question. I would want to say it puts the minority community in an awkward position to never having a choice when you talk about an 80 to 70. Maybe that's not, in most places, insignificant, but 70 to 55 could be very significant. And unless you allow the consideration of what else is going on in the map, you'd be stuck with the 70.
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    There are a lot of areas where you may, for political reasons of effective participation in the Government and the City Council, whatever, may want to reduce the percentage from a 70, say, to a 55 in order to create a more accommodating council, and unless you count the influence districts, you're stuck. If all you're looking at is one district, you're retrogressing from 70 to 55. If you go from 70 to 55 but create a good council where you might actually be able to take over, you don't want to foreclose that as a possibility, ever; and if you don't consider the totality of the circumstances, how do you do that? If we have another round——

    Mr. CHABOT. We're not planning on that, but the gentleman's time has expired.

    The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized for 5 minutes.

    Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me say to the witnesses that this has been just an absolutely great hearing this afternoon; and the one this morning was outstanding, too. So I want to thank all of you for being here.

    I think I'll ask two questions. I want to ask the researchers a question, and then I want to ask the lawyers a question, two different questions. Let me deal with the researchers first.

    Because Mr. Blum this morning seemed to be saying that your study, Mr. Gaddie, leads to a conclusion that you don't need section 5 in Georgia. The beauty of this job is when I was practicing law I couldn't ask a question I didn't know the answer to. I can ask a question here, but I don't know the answer. I don't know what you're going to say in response to this. Do you think your study suggests that, as Mr. Blum indicated this morning, that section 5 preclearance is not warranted in Georgia?
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    Mr. GADDIE. Mr. Watt, first of all, it's nice to have an attorney ask a question where I have an advantage in cross-examination, so thank you.

    The context of the study is congressional elections, Statewide elections, minority participation. Using methodologies that both Professor Engstrom and I are familiar with, we examined bi-racial contests, which had the most probative value, and also White-on-White contests for comparison; and in the context of what is typically now the election of consequence at these levels in Georgia, the general election, there's little differentiation in the White voter choice between Black and White Democrats.

    This is really the point that I think needs to be made. We can assume a very high degree of cohesion among African-American voters in States like Georgia. Our estimates typically show 90 to 99 percent Africa-American voter cohesion. So the question is, to what extent are White voters crossing over?

    When we look at the election of Thurgood Baker, we look at the election of Mike Thurmond, two Statewide Black elected officials in Georgia, we see them receiving votes from Whites at a rate comparable to other Democrats who win Statewide in Georgia. When we look at African-Americans who lose Statewide, Denise Majette for the U.S. Senate, we see her vote totals and her White vote shares coming in at a level comparable to other White candidates who lose Statewide.

    So in the context of partisan politics, African-American candidates are little differentiated from White candidates in Georgia. But, by the same token, if we look at the opportunities that exist, African-Americans are elected to the legislature, they are elected from districts that are approaching 50 percent. They could be elected from districts as low as 44 percent, and they are attracting White votes in the same fashion as Black candidates.
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    So in the context of congressional elections and in the context of Statewide elections to State legislature, yes, I would agree with Mr. Blum. We have no conclusions about local Government.

    It has been alleged in a previous hearing here that 90 percent of jurisdictions covered by section 5 can bail out now if they wanted to. Maybe what we need to do is take a look and see if that number is correct, because there are probably jurisdictions in Georgia that still need to be covered, but, Statewide, Georgia seems to be in good shape.

    Mr. WATT. Has Georgia applied the bailout? And wouldn't that be a fail-safe form even if the conclusion you say is a correct conclusion? I'm not cutting you off. I just want to get Mr. Engstrom to comment on the same question. Then I've got a legal question that I want to ask both the lawyers to comment on. So don't take too much time because my red light is going to come on.

    Mr. ENGSTROM. Let me say, first of all, that Dr. Gaddie has said that districts as low as 44 percent provide an equal opportunity. I assume what he means is to elect African-American candidates of choice. I don't agree. That's based on that analysis done by Professor Epstein in the case which the District Court dismissed and which the Supreme Court only referenced. There's no finding in the Supreme Court that says it's 44 percent. The Supreme Court simply said and the State has a witness who will say that it's 44 percent.

    I looked at that data when I was doing the case, and I discovered that that figure was—if you take out Cynthia McKinney, who wasn't running for a State Senate seat but reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives, if you take her out and you look at Senate districts, without her the figure goes up over 50 percent. Or if you look at only Senate districts, I think it was—the figure went up over 50 percent. When McKinney and others were included, not dealing with State Senate elections but throwing in congressional and others, that brought the figure back down.
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    But you had—what was in there were people like Cynthia McKinney running as incumbents and other African-American legislators running as incumbents. And I do want to note she was even treated as not an incumbent when she ran for reelection because of a decision rule that said not over 50 percent of her old district was in her new district. That was after the mid-decade change, I believe.

    Mr. WATT. So I can't reconcile what Mr. Blum, Mr. Gaddie and Mr. Engstrom just told me. I just have to be a fact finder here and make up my own mind. That's what you all are telling me.

    Mr. ENGSTROM. I can add one thing, but I don't——

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time has expired. However, you can answer the question.

    Mr. ENGSTROM. I just want to say one other thing that disturbed me. I haven't read the study, haven't seen it at all, but the constant references to no different than some States that are not subject to a preclearance—and I remember Arkansas being mentioned. Well, I would hope we would not throw out the preclearance provision of section 5, because in some of those jurisdictions racially polarized voting is similar to the State of Arkansas. I haven't done recent work in Arkansas, but I did work in Arkansas. I was an expert in a case in which racially polarized voting was found, and it was at a substantial level, and it was not only found by my statistics that I presented. But three judges, all from—who had grown up and lived in Arkansas, they simply said, in addition to my evidence, they take judicial notice that voting is racially polarized in the State of Arkansas.
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    Mr. WATT. Mr. Chairman, can I ask unanimous consent for one additional minute on the presumption that the lawyers will answer my questions quicker than the social scientists will?

    Mr. CHABOT. Without objection.

    Mr. WATT. Legal question, is there any doubt in the two lawyers' minds that the Supreme Court has now interpreted the section 5 preclearance standard different than what Congress intended for it to be? And what do you think the standard ought to be? I think Mr. Hunter already got toward that objective in the later part of his written testimony. What's you all's opinion on where the Supreme Court has gotten to on this standard? Is it consistent with what you understood to be congressional intent?

    Mr. HUNTER. No, sir, it would not be mine. I think if you move back toward the Arlington Heights kind of analysis you'd be on safe constitutional ground, and I don't believe that—and I believe it would be consistent with what was meant in the '60's, '70's and '80's when you reauthorized the act.

    Mr. MCDONALD. I fully share Mr. Hunter's views. I think Bossier II is just fundamentally inconsistent.

    Mr. WATT. See, I told you all lawyers could answer questions quicker than social scientists. I didn't have any doubt about it.

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    I yield back.

    Mr. CHABOT. The gentleman's time is expired.

    The gentlelady from California, Ms. Sánchez, who's not actually a Member of this Committee but is a Member of the full Committee, I would ask unanimous consent, although they don't normally ask questions, I would be happy if she would like to take 5 minutes to ask questions if no one will object.

    Hearing none, the gentlelady has 5 minutes.

    Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Before I begin, I just wanted to bring the Committee's attention to the fact that a pioneer in voter participation and minority representation passed. Ed Roybal, who was a Member of the House of Representatives for 30 years, passed yesterday; and I just wanted to honor him by keeping him in our thoughts. He's the father of Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, so please keep her in your thoughts as well.

    I would also ask unanimous consent to submit an opening statement for the record.

    Mr. CHABOT. Without objection, it will be entered into the record.

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    [The prepared statement of Ms. Sánchez follows in the Appendix]

    Ms. SÁNCHEZ. I could lie and say they're going to be quick questions, but that all depends on how lengthy the answers are.

    I'd like to begin with Professor Engstrom. I agree with your conclusions that your research supports, given the racial polarization of many jurisdictions, that section 5 coverage needs to remain in force where it presently applies. My question is, with the growth of the Latino population in the United States and the potential establishment of new racially polarized cities and counties, how do you recommend that those jurisdictions receive protection from voting discrimination? Do you believe that it would be wise to establish a mechanism when the VRA is reauthorized to allow the Department of Justice to exercise some oversight or control in those areas?

    Mr. ENGSTROM. I have to admit I'm answering first impression, but my first impression is, yes, given Latino growth, given areas that may not have been previously covered because of the relative absence of Latinos and now a substantial presence of them, I think it is something definitely worthy of looking into to see if the coverage mechanism couldn't include new problems that are new geographically, not old problems, but are now surfacing in new situations because of the change in population and demographics.

    Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Could you envision mechanisms that are comparable to some of the mechanisms that have been used in the past where the minority population has historically been African-American that has experienced these kinds of discriminatory tactics?

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    Mr. ENGSTROM. I think the first thing would be to look at whether existing mechanisms do the job and would do it effectively in this new context. I don't really have—it's not something I've been thinking a lot of, I have to admit. I'm sorry.

    Ms. SÁNCHEZ. I've hopefully planted the seed.

    Mr. CHABOT. Will the gentlelady yield for a moment?

    I believe section 3, I think that already covers it, but we appreciate the lady bringing that up.

    I yield back.

    Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Anything further to add, Mr. Engstrom?

    Mr. ENGSTROM. I don't have the answers. Again it's something I'd have to give thought to, but I think it's worthy of taking a serious look at.

    Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Thank you.

    Mr. McDonald, a question for you. I would like, if you would be so kind, for you to shed some more light on how proposed changes to voting laws can have retrogressive effects. I know that some detractors feel that it's no longer necessary to gain Federal approval to insure that a proposed voting change is not retrogressive. I'm specifically interested if you can explain how seemingly minor voting changes can have a major retrogressive effect on voting acts, for example, the changing of a polling place location. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
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    Mr. MCDONALD. Well, all of these changes can have an important affect. The implementation of a majority vote requirement, for example, for a Mayor of a city doesn't sound like a huge change, but if you have three or four White candidates running and one Black candidate running, it may very well be that the White candidates will split the White vote and the Black candidate would get the plurality. If you abolish that and go to a majority vote requirement, it means the Whites can always regroup in the runoff. In fact, throughout the South there is a pattern of the adoption by jurisdictions of those kinds of discriminatory voting practices to blunt the effect of increased registration and turnout by Blacks.

    Things like numbered post provisions, which isolate people on one-on-one contests, also dilute the voting strength of a discrete minority. Staggered terms of office, which restrict the number of posts that are up in any election, have the same effect. We had the State Legislature in South Carolina 2 years ago enacting a system for a school board going from a nonpartisan, multi-seat format to a partisan format which the district court had just ruled diluted minority voting strength and you have the legislature adopting that very system for the school board. So I mean some of them are subtle; some are not so subtle. We have the State of Georgia enacting its photo ID requirement, which is resurrecting the poll tax.

    Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Thank you so much for your testimony, and I yield back.

    Mr. CHABOT. Thank you. The gentlelady's time is expired.

    I think that concludes the questioning by the Members of the panel up here this afternoon.
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    I would just note again for the record something I had indicated early on in the hearing, that we had scheduled two hearings this Thursday which will no longer take place. They'll be, we think, next week; and we'll let both sides know when they are rescheduled.

    We want to thank the panel this afternoon. My esteemed colleague from New York, the Ranking Member, said not only was this interesting but the testimony was scintillating. His term, but I think he's right. This was very helpful.

    Also goes to again make sure that the record which will be necessary ultimately to make sure that it's complete is more complete than it was prior to this hearing, and we appreciate very much this panel for having that effect. So thank you again for coming.

    If there's no further business to come before the Committee, we're adjourned. Thank you.

    [Whereupon, at 3:40 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]


Material Submitted for the Hearing Record


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    With our review of the history, scope and purpose of Section 5, we turn to the heart of the matter on reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. Under Section 5, any change with respect to voting in a covered jurisdiction—or any political subunit within it—cannot legally be enforced unless and until the jurisdiction first obtains preclearance, either from the Department of Justice or the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

    Preclearance requires proof that the proposed voting change does not deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. If the jurisdiction is unable to prove the absence of such discrimination, the District Court denies preclearance, or in the case of administrative submissions, the Attorney General objects to the change, and it remains legally unenforceable.

    At the time of its original passage, some in Congress complained of the serious burden that Section 5 placed on covered jurisdictions, as they do today. But then, as now, I believe it is more important to focus on the fundamental rights being protected by the Act and the history of federal enforcement efforts.

    Some choose to ignore the fact that, prior to 1965, the federal government had attempted to strike down discrimination in voting, only to face some mutation of a discriminatory scheme from jurisdictions shortly thereafter. Section 5 was designed to stop this continual march from court to court and to achieve a substantial initial victory allowing African-American access to the ballot box.

    The Voting Rights Act has been amended three (3) times to broaden the scope of the Section 5's coverage to language minorities and to cope with the changing nature of voting discrimination. Now we must ask ourselves: how does Section 5 evolve or has it outlived its usefulness. Today, some of our witnesses may suggest that the time for Section5 has passed and that we should move on, relying on Section 2 of the Act to address any continuing discrimination.
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    Others have already pointed out that the continuing record of Section 5 objections supports a need for reauthorization and strengthening enforcement provisions, like Section 5. While I believe that the Act should be fully reauthorized, it is vital that we understand all the arguments regarding the merits of Section 5, and the other special provisions, to ensure that we build a record adequate to insulate this important legislation from any constitutional challenge. I look forward to our exploration of the evolution of Section 5 over the course of these next four (4) hearings.



    Thank you Chairman Chabot and Ranking Member Nadler for convening today's hearing. I appreciate the opportunity to join the Constitution Subcommittee's review of the ''Continuing Need for Section 5'' of the Voting Rights Act.

    I believe very strongly that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act needs to continue so that minority voters are empowered to elect the candidates of their choice and fully participate in the political process.

    In recent nationally published op-eds, some commentators have described the pre-clearance provision as ''antiquarian nonsense.'' Apparently, these detractors believe that preventing voting fraud and intimidation is ''nonsense.'' I firmly disagree.
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    The pre-clearance provision of Section 5 offers protections against retrogressive changes to polling places and other tactics that can further fraud and intimidation.

    Section 5's pre-clearance requirements have effectively detected and prohibited voting laws and procedures used in many jurisdictions to deprive Latinos and other minorities of their voting power.

    In addition to its direct effects, Section 5 acts as a strong deterrent against discriminatory voting changes by local officials and legislators. These officials are much less likely to propose discriminatory voting changes because they know that these changes have to meet the pre-clearance requirements.

    One of the most important elements of Section 5 is that it is broad in scope and provides all minority voters with full protection from discrimination.

    Another key element of Section 5 is that it's written in plain language that has long been understood to prohibit both purposeful discriminatory voting changes and also those voting changes that have a discriminatory effect.

    The breadth of Section 5 and its plain language provides minority voters with substantial protections against discriminatory voting practices.

    However, recent Supreme Court rulings have effectively eliminated many of the protections in the Section 5 pre-clearance test, and as a result significantly reduced the power of Section 5.
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    For example, in the Reno v. Bossier Parish School Board, the Supreme Court upheld a Louisiana school board district plan that intentionally prevented African-American majority districts from being established.

    The court reasoned that because there had never been a Black district in Bossier Parish, the Department of Justice was powerless to block intentionally discriminatory voting changes unless it found that the jurisdiction acted with the ''retrogressive purpose'' of making things worse for African-Americans.

    As a result of the Supreme Court's ruling, election officials in purposefully segregated jurisdictions can now make new voting changes that are intentionally meant to perpetuate the discrimination against minority voters, and those changes would not violate Section 5.

    That is certainly not the result that Congress contemplated when Section 5 was written. Section 5 has an ''effect'' prong and a ''purpose'' prong that are meant to prohibit voting practices that are discriminatory both in effect and in intent.

    The Supreme Court's ruling has substantially weakened the Department of Justice's power to protect minority voters from voting practices that are intentionally designed to diminish minorities' power in the political process.

    It is critical that Section 5 be reauthorized and also changed to restore the ''purpose'' prong of the Section 5 pre-clearance test and give the Department of Justice full power to enforce the Voting Rights Act.
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    Before I conclude, I would also like to state for the record my opposition to the nationwide application of Section 5. This would be disastrous, and would ultimately render this important provision ineffective.

    Under current law, the Department of Justice has the ability to focus and target their enforcement. We need to ensure that DOJ retains this power so that they can better focus their work on the jurisdictions where a recent history of voting discrimination remains.

    Again, I thank Chairman Chabot and Ranking Member Nadler for their courtesy in letting me participate in these hearings.

    I yield back the balance of my time.



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