Today, the New York Senate’s Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment held a hearing on redistricting.  NAACP LDF Assistant Counsel Dale Ho testified concerning the role of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) during the redistricting process, and described important legal developments during the last decade.  

Last year, in Bartlett v. Strickland, the Supreme Court emphasized that “racial discrimination and racially polarized voting are not ancient history,” underscoring the continuing need to provide minority voters with an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice through compliance with the VRA.  The Bartlett decision clarified that majority-minority districts remain protected by the Voting Rights Act under many circumstances, and that States and localities also have the option of establishing minority opportunity districts where there has been population growth in minority communities, even if a particular minority population does not reach a 50% threshold of a proposed district.

“Experience has shown that compliance with the Voting Rights Act and the adequate protection of minority voting rights in the redistricting context requires a degree of flexibility, and that a focus on process without equal attention to fair results is not a panacea,” said Ho.