Voting Rights

Atlanta Attorneys Experienced in Litigation Involving Constitutional Claims

Elected officials in Georgia face important decisions that can affect voting rights far into the future. Under the federal Constitution’s principle of one person, one vote, governments must equalize the population in each voting district that elects a member of a legislative body. However, reapportionment can be affected by technological programs that predict the future political performance of districts. District lines and voting precinct lines can be manipulated easily to achieve an outcome. The Atlanta voting rights lawyers at Parks, Chesin & Walbert can represent citizens and state and local governments with regard to reapportionment and litigation following a decennial census. We represent clients across the political spectrum. We have handled complicated voting rights matters for years and followed the corresponding growth of voting technology. Two of our attorneys have participated in landmark voting rights cases, including a leading case on racial gerrymandering, Miller v. Johnson.

Laws Protecting Voting Rights

There are multiple federal laws that address voting rights. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is the primary voting rights law that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It imposes a significant burden on local and state governments, providing that private lawsuits can be brought over voting disputes. The Voting Rights Act was enacted after Title I of the Civil Rights Act, which mandates the equal application of voting procedures and rules and voter registration requirements.

Numerous provisions in the Voting Rights Act regulate elections, including provisions that prohibit local and state governments from imposing any voting law that results in discrimination against racial or language minorities. Section 2 prohibits the enforcement of prerequisites to voting, voting qualifications, standards, practices, or procedures that give rise to the denial or abridgement of a right to vote based on race, color, or language minority status. Our voting rights attorneys can help Atlanta residents investigate potential violations of this law.

Other provisions of the Voting Rights Act outlaw literacy tests and similar tools that may be used to disenfranchise racial minorities. Many election laws require that nobody should be denied the right to full access to voting based on their race, economic status, or political affiliation, and these laws address the design of voting ballots, voter identification, and precincts. Certain provisions apply only to particular jurisdictions.

The Voting Rights Act permits private lawsuits to be brought based on violations of this law. For example, under Section 2, state and local governments are not allowed to dilute the votes of racial minority groups, such as by drawing district lines to divide minority communities and prevent their consolidation of votes from electing particular representatives. To prove voting dilution, a plaintiff must be able to show that there is a geographically concentrated minority population and voting patterns in which minority and white voters vote differently as groups. A plaintiff also needs to show that white candidates can defeat candidates supported by minorities even when the minority voters are unified at the polls. These claims are complex, so retaining an Atlanta voting rights attorney can be critical. If a court determines that the effect of this system is to make minority votes less powerful than white votes, it may order an election system change. However, it is permissible to draw majority-minority election districts based on traditional and non-racial districting considerations, such as making the area compact.

Section 203

Under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, bilingual voting materials and minority language ballots have been required in particular jurisdictions since 1975. The bilingual materials are required in jurisdictions that have more than 10,000 voting age minority citizens who are not fluent in English. Section 203 emphasizes language groups that have faced exclusion in the political process, and it includes Spanish, Native languages, Alaska Native languages, and Asian languages. It applies to primaries, general elections and referenda, special elections, and school district elections inside designated jurisdictions.

Other Voting Rights Laws

Other voting rights laws include the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act, the Uniformed Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and the Help America Vote Act.

Consult a Skillful Voting Rights Lawyer in Atlanta

Our firm has served as counsel in lawsuits brought against public school systems under federal court supervision mandating integration. We won orders in lawsuits involving school systems that already had been integrated. These orders declared the school systems to be unitary and replaced forced busing for racial balancing reasons with a return to neighborhood schools that were close to the student’s home. We represent clients in Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Forsyth, and Glynn Counties. Call us at 404-873-8048 or contact us through our online form.

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