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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR Data is current as of April 22, 2014

Title 28: Judicial Administration


PART 51—PROCEDURES FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF SECTION 5 OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965, AS AMENDED


Contents

Subpart A—General Provisions

§51.1   Purpose.
§51.2   Definitions.
§51.3   Delegation of authority.
§51.4   Date used to determine coverage; list of covered jurisdictions.
§51.5   Termination of coverage.
§51.6   Political subunits.
§51.7   Political parties.
§51.8   Section 3 coverage.
§51.9   Computation of time.
§51.10   Requirement of action for declaratory judgment or submission to the Attorney General.
§51.11   Right to bring suit.
§51.12   Scope of requirement.
§51.13   Examples of changes.
§51.14   Recurrent practices.
§51.15   Enabling legislation and contingent or nonuniform requirements.
§51.16   Distinction between changes in procedure and changes in substance.
§51.17   Special elections.
§51.18   Federal court-ordered changes.
§51.19   Request for notification concerning voting litigation.

Subpart B—Procedures for Submission to the Attorney General

§51.20   Form of submissions.
§51.21   Time of submissions.
§51.22   Submitted changes that will not be reviewed.
§51.23   Party and jurisdiction responsible for making submissions.
§51.24   Delivery of submissions.
§51.25   Withdrawal of submissions.

Subpart C—Contents of Submissions

§51.26   General.
§51.27   Required contents.
§51.28   Supplemental contents.

Subpart D—Communications From Individuals and Groups

§51.29   Communications concerning voting changes.
§51.30   Action on communications from individuals or groups.
§51.31   Communications concerning voting suits.
§51.32   Establishment and maintenance of registry of interested individuals and groups.

Subpart E—Processing of Submissions

§51.33   Notice to registrants concerning submissions.
§51.34   Expedited consideration.
§51.35   Disposition of inappropriate submissions and resubmissions.
§51.36   Release of information concerning submissions.
§51.37   Obtaining information from the submitting authority.
§51.38   Obtaining information from others.
§51.39   Supplemental information and related submissions.
§51.40   Failure to complete submissions.
§51.41   Notification of decision not to object.
§51.42   Failure of the Attorney General to respond.
§51.43   Reexamination of decision not to object.
§51.44   Notification of decision to object.
§51.45   Request for reconsideration.
§51.46   Reconsideration of objection at the instance of the Attorney General.
§51.47   Conference.
§51.48   Decision after reconsideration.
§51.49   Absence of judicial review.
§51.50   Records concerning submissions.

Subpart F—Determinations by the Attorney General

§51.51   Purpose of the subpart.
§51.52   Basic standard.
§51.53   Information considered.
§51.54   Discriminatory purpose and effect.
§51.55   Consistency with constitutional and statutory requirements.
§51.56   Guidance from the courts.
§51.57   Relevant factors.
§51.58   Representation.
§51.59   Redistricting plans.
§51.60   Changes in electoral systems.
§51.61   Annexations.

Subpart G—Sanctions

§51.62   Enforcement by the Attorney General.
§51.63   Enforcement by private parties.
§51.64   Bar to termination of coverage (bailout).

Subpart H—Petition To Change Procedures

§51.65   Who may petition.
§51.66   Form of petition.
§51.67   Disposition of petition.
Appendix to Part 51—Jurisdictions Covered Under Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, as Amended

Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 28 U.S.C. 509, 510, and 42 U.S.C. 1973b, 1973c.

Source: 52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, unless otherwise noted.

Subpart A—General Provisions

§51.1   Purpose.

(a) Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 1973c, prohibits the enforcement in any jurisdiction covered by section 4(b) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973b(b), of any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on the date used to determine coverage, until either:

(1) A declaratory judgment is obtained from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, or

(2) It has been submitted to the Attorney General and the Attorney General has interposed no objection within a 60-day period following submission.

(b) In order to make clear the responsibilities of the Attorney General under section 5 and the interpretation of the Attorney General of the responsibility imposed on others under this section, the procedures in this part have been established to govern the administration of section 5.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21243, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.2   Definitions.

As used in this part—

Act means the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 79 Stat. 437, as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1968, 82 Stat. 73, the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970, 84 Stat. 314, the District of Columbia Delegate Act, 84 Stat. 853, the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1975, 89 Stat. 400, the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1982, 96 Stat. 131, the Voting Rights Language Assistance Act of 1992, 106 Stat. 921, the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006, 120 Stat. 577, and the Act to Revise the Short Title of the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006, 122 Stat. 2428, 42 U.S.C. 1973 et seq. Section numbers, such as “section 14(c)(3),” refer to sections of the Act.

Attorney General means the Attorney General of the United States or the delegate of the Attorney General.

Change affecting voting or change means any voting qualification, prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on the date used to determine coverage under section 4(b) or from the existing standard, practice, or procedure if it was subsequently altered and precleared under section 5. In assessing whether a change has a discriminatory purpose or effect, the comparison shall be with the standard, practice, or procedure in effect on the date used to determine coverage under section 4(b) or the most recent precleared standard, practice, or procedure. Some examples of changes affecting voting are given in §51.13.

Covered jurisdiction is used to refer to a State, where the determination referred to in §51.4 has been made on a statewide basis, and to a political subdivision, where the determination has not been made on a statewide basis.

Language minorities or language minority group is used, as defined in the Act, to refer to persons who are American Indian, Asian American, Alaskan Natives, or of Spanish heritage. (Sections 14(c)(3) and 203(e)). See 28 CFR part 55, Interpretative Guidelines: Implementation of the Provisions of the Voting Rights Act Regarding Language Minority Groups.

Political subdivision is used, as defined in the Act, to refer to “any county or parish, except that where registration for voting is not conducted under the supervision of a county or parish, the term shall include any other subdivision of a State which conducts registration for voting.” (Section 14(c)(2)).

Preclearance is used to refer to the obtaining of the declaratory judgment described in section 5, to the failure of the Attorney General to interpose an objection pursuant to section 5, or to the withdrawal of an objection by the Attorney General pursuant to §51.48(b).

Submission is used to refer to the written presentation to the Attorney General by an appropriate official of any change affecting voting.

Submitting authority means the jurisdiction on whose behalf a submission is made.

Vote and voting are used, as defined in the Act, to include “all action necessary to make a vote effective in any primary, special, or general election, including, but not limited to, registration, listing pursuant to this Act, or other action required by law prerequisite to voting, casting a ballot, and having such ballot counted properly and included in the appropriate totals of votes cast with respect to candidates for public or party office and propositions for which votes are received in an election.” (Section 14(c)(1)).

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21243, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.3   Delegation of authority.

The responsibility and authority for determinations under section 5 and section 3(c) have been delegated by the Attorney General to the Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division. With the exception of objections and decisions following the reconsideration of objections, the Chief of the Voting Section is authorized to perform the functions of the Assistant Attorney General. With the concurrence of the Assistant Attorney General, the Chief of the Voting Section may designate supervisory attorneys in the Voting Section to perform the functions of the Chief.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21243, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.4   Date used to determine coverage; list of covered jurisdictions.

(a) The requirement of section 5 takes effect upon publication in the Federal Register of the requisite determinations of the Director of the Census and the Attorney General under section 4(b). These determinations are not reviewable in any court. (Section 4(b)).

(b) Section 5 requires the preclearance of changes affecting voting made since the date used for the determination of coverage. For each covered jurisdiction that date is one of the following: November 1, 1964; November 1, 1968; or November 1, 1972.

(c) The appendix to this part contains a list of covered jurisdictions, together with the applicable date used to determine coverage and the Federal Register citation for the determination of coverage.

§51.5   Termination of coverage.

(a) Expiration. The requirements of section 5 will expire at the end of the twenty-five-year period following the effective date of the amendments made by the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, César E. Chávez, Barbara C. Jordan, William C. Velásquez, and Dr. Hector P. Garcia Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006 (VRARA), which amendments became effective on July 27, 2006. See section 4(a)(8) of the VRARA.

(b) Bailout. Any political subunit in a covered jurisdiction or a political subdivision of a covered State, a covered jurisdiction or a political subdivision of a covered State, or a covered State may terminate the application of section 5 (“bailout”) by obtaining the declaratory judgment described in section 4(a) of the Act.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21243, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.6   Political subunits.

All political subunits within a covered jurisdiction (e.g., counties, cities, school districts) that have not terminated coverage by obtaining the declaratory judgment described in section 4(a) of the Act are subject to the requirements of section 5.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21243, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.7   Political parties.

Certain activities of political parties are subject to the preclearance requirement of section 5. A change affecting voting effected by a political party is subject to the preclearance requirement:

(a) If the change relates to a public electoral function of the party and

(b) If the party is acting under authority explicitly or implicitly granted by a covered jurisdiction or political subunit subject to the preclearance requirement of section 5.

For example, changes with respect to the recruitment of party members, the conduct of political campaigns, and the drafting of party platforms are not subject to the preclearance requirement. Changes with respect to the conduct of primary elections at which party nominees, delegates to party conventions, or party officials are chosen are subject to the preclearance requirement of section 5. Where appropriate the term “jurisdiction” (but not “covered jurisdiction”) includes political parties.

§51.8   Section 3 coverage.

Under section 3(c) of the Act, a court in voting rights litigation can order as relief that a jurisdiction not subject to the preclearance requirement of section 5 preclear its voting changes by submitting them either to the court or to the Attorney General. Where a jurisdiction is required under section 3(c) to preclear its voting changes, and it elects to submit the proposed changes to the Attorney General for preclearance, the procedures in this part will apply.

§51.9   Computation of time.

(a) The Attorney General shall have 60 days in which to interpose an objection to a submitted change affecting voting for which a response on the merits is appropriate (see §51.35, §51.37).

(b) The 60-day period shall commence upon receipt of a submission by the Voting Section of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division or upon receipt of a submission by the Office of the Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, if the submission is properly marked as specified in §51.24(f). The 60-day period shall recommence upon the receipt in like manner of a resubmission (see §51.35), information provided in response to a written request for additional information (see §51.37(b)), or material, supplemental information or a related submission (see §51.39).

(c) The 60-day period shall mean 60 calendar days, with the day of receipt of the submission not counted, and with the 60th day ending at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time of that day. If the final day of the period should fall on a Saturday, Sunday, or any day designated as a holiday by the President or Congress of the United States, or any other day that is not a day of regular business for the Department of Justice, the next full business day shall be counted as the final day of the 60-day period. The date of the Attorney General's response shall be the date on which it is transmitted to the submitting authority by any reasonable means, including placing it in a postbox of the U.S. Postal Service or a private mail carrier, sending it by telefacsimile, email, or other electronic means, or delivering it in person to a representative of the submitting authority.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21243, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.10   Requirement of action for declaratory judgment or submission to the Attorney General.

Section 5 requires that, prior to enforcement of any change affecting voting, the jurisdiction that has enacted or seeks to administer the change must either:

(a) Obtain a judicial determination from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that the voting change neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

(b) Make to the Attorney General a proper submission of the change to which no objection is interposed.

It is unlawful to enforce a change affecting voting without obtaining preclearance under section 5. The obligation to obtain such preclearance is not relieved by unlawful enforcement.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987; 52 FR 2648, Jan. 23, 1987, as amended by Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21243, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.11   Right to bring suit.

Submission to the Attorney General does not affect the right of the submitting authority to bring an action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment that the change affecting voting neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21243, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.12   Scope of requirement.

Except as provided in §51.18 (Federal court-ordered changes), the section 5 requirement applies to any change affecting voting, even though it appears to be minor or indirect, returns to a prior practice or procedure, seemingly expands voting rights, or is designed to remove the elements that caused the Attorney General to object to a prior submitted change. The scope of section 5 coverage is based on whether the generic category of changes affecting voting to which the change belongs (for example, the generic categories of changes listed in §51.13) has the potential for discrimination. NAACP v. Hampton County Election Commission, 470 U.S. 166 (1985). The method by which a jurisdiction enacts or administers a change does not affect the requirement to comply with section 5, which applies to changes enacted or administered through the executive, legislative, or judicial branches.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21244, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.13   Examples of changes.

Changes affecting voting include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

(a) Any change in qualifications or eligibility for voting.

(b) Any change concerning registration, balloting, and the counting of votes and any change concerning publicity for or assistance in registration or voting.

(c) Any change with respect to the use of a language other than English in any aspect of the electoral process.

(d) Any change in the boundaries of voting precincts or in the location of polling places.

(e) Any change in the constituency of an official or the boundaries of a voting unit (e.g., through redistricting, annexation, deannexation, incorporation, dissolution, merger, reapportionment, changing to at-large elections from district elections, or changing to district elections from at-large elections).

(f) Any change in the method of determining the outcome of an election (e.g., by requiring a majority vote for election or the use of a designated post or place system).

(g) Any change affecting the eligibility of persons to become or remain candidates, to obtain a position on the ballot in primary or general elections, or to become or remain holders of elective offices.

(h) Any change in the eligibility and qualification procedures for independent candidates.

(i) Any change in the term of an elective office or an elected official, or any change in the offices that are elective (e.g., by shortening or extending the term of an office; changing from election to appointment; transferring authority from an elected to an appointed official that, in law or in fact, eliminates the elected official's office; or staggering the terms of offices).

(j) Any change affecting the necessity of or methods for offering issues and propositions for approval by referendum.

(k) Any change affecting the right or ability of persons to participate in pre-election activities, such as political campaigns.

(l) Any change that transfers or alters the authority of any official or governmental entity regarding who may enact or seek to implement a voting qualification, prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21244, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.14   Recurrent practices.

Where a jurisdiction implements a practice or procedure periodically or upon certain established contingencies, a change occurs:

(a) The first time such a practice or procedure is implemented by the jurisdiction,

(b) When the manner in which such a practice or procedure is implemented by the jurisdiction is changed, or

(c) When the rules for determining when such a practice or procedure will be implemented are changed.

The failure of the Attorney General to object to a recurrent practice or procedure constitutes preclearance of the future use of the practice or procedure if its recurrent nature is clearly stated or described in the submission or is expressly recognized in the final response of the Attorney General on the merits of the submission.

§51.15   Enabling legislation and contingent or nonuniform requirements.

(a) With respect to legislation (1) that enables or permits the State or its political subunits to institute a voting change or (2) that requires or enables the State or its political sub-units to institute a voting change upon some future event or if they satisfy certain criteria, the failure of the Attorney General to interpose an objection does not exempt from the preclearance requirement the implementation of the particular voting change that is enabled, permitted, or required, unless that implementation is explicitly included and described in the submission of such parent legislation.

(b) For example, such legislation includes—

(1) Legislation authorizing counties, cities, school districts, or agencies or officials of the State to institute any of the changes described in §51.13,

(2) Legislation requiring a political subunit that chooses a certain form of government to follow specified election procedures,

(3) Legislation requiring or authorizing political subunits of a certain size or a certain location to institute specified changes,

(4) Legislation requiring a political subunit to follow certain practices or procedures unless the subunit's charter or ordinances specify to the contrary.

§51.16   Distinction between changes in procedure and changes in substance.

The failure of the Attorney General to interpose an objection to a procedure for instituting a change affecting voting does not exempt the substantive change from the preclearance requirement. For example, if the procedure for the approval of an annexation is changed from city council approval to approval in a referendum, the preclearance of the new procedure does not exempt an annexation accomplished under the new procedure from the preclearance requirement.

§51.17   Special elections.

(a) The conduct of a special election (e.g., an election to fill a vacancy; an initiative, referendum, or recall election; or a bond issue election) is subject to the preclearance requirement to the extent that the jurisdiction makes changes in the practices or procedures to be followed.

(b) Any discretionary setting of the date for a special election or scheduling of events leading up to or following a special election is subject to the preclearance requirement.

(c) A jurisdiction conducting a referendum election to ratify a change in a practice or procedure that affects voting may submit the change to be voted on at the same time that it submits any changes involved in the conduct of the referendum election. A jurisdiction wishing to receive preclearance for the change to be ratified should state clearly that such preclearance is being requested. See §51.22 of this part.

§51.18   Federal court-ordered changes.

(a) In general. Changes affecting voting for which approval by a Federal court is required, or that are ordered by a Federal court, are exempt from section 5 review only where the Federal court prepared the change and the change has not been subsequently adopted or modified by the relevant governmental body. McDaniel v. Sanchez, 452 U.S. 130 (1981). (See also §51.22.)

(b) Subsequent changes. Where a Federal court-ordered change is not itself subject to the preclearance requirement, subsequent changes necessitated by the court order but decided upon by the jurisdiction remain subject to preclearance. For example, voting precinct and polling changes made necessary by a court-ordered redistricting plan are subject to section 5 review.

(c) Alteration in section 5 status. Where a Federal court-ordered change at its inception is not subject to review under section 5, a subsequent action by the submitting authority demonstrating that the change reflects its policy choices (e.g., adoption or ratification of the change, or implementation in a manner not explicitly authorized by the court) will render the change subject to review under section 5 with regard to any future implementation.

(d) In emergencies. A Federal court's authorization of the emergency interim use without preclearance of a voting change does not exempt from section 5 review any use of that practice not explicitly authorized by the court.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21244, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.19   Request for notification concerning voting litigation.

A jurisdiction subject to the preclearance requirements of section 5 that becomes involved in any litigation concerning voting is requested to notify the Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, at the addresses, telefacsimile number, or email address specified in §51.24. Such notification will not be considered a submission under section 5.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21244, Apr. 15, 2011]

Subpart B—Procedures for Submission to the Attorney General

§51.20   Form of submissions.

(a) Submissions may be made in letter or any other written form.

(b) The Attorney General will accept certain machine readable data in the following electronic media: 3.5 inch 1.4 megabyte disk, compact disc read-only memory (CD-ROM) formatted to the ISO-9660/Joliet standard, or digital versatile disc read-only memory (DVD-ROM). Unless requested by the Attorney General, data provided on electronic media need not be provided in hard copy.

(c) All electronic media shall be clearly labeled with the following information:

(1) Submitting authority.

(2) Name, address, title, and telephone number of contact person.

(3) Date of submission cover letter.

(4) Statement identifying the voting change(s) involved in the submission.

(d) Each magnetic medium (floppy disk or tape) provided must be accompanied by a printed description of its contents, including an identification by name or location of each data file contained on the medium, a detailed record layout for each such file, a record count for each such file, and a full description of the magnetic medium format.

(e) Text documents should be provided in a standard American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) character code; documents with graphics and complex formatting should be provided in standard Portable Document Format (PDF). The label shall be affixed to each electronic medium, and the information included on the label shall also be contained in a documentation file on the electronic medium.

(f) All data files shall be provided in a delimited text file and must include a header row as the first row with a name for each field in the data set. A separate data dictionary file documenting the fields in the data set, the field separators or delimiters, and a description of each field, including whether the field is text, date, or numeric, enumerating all possible values is required; separators and delimiters should not also be used as data in the data set. Proprietary or commercial software system data files (e.g., SAS, SPSS, dBase, Lotus 1-2-3) and data files containing compressed data or binary data fields will not be accepted.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order No. 1536-91, 56 FR 51836, Oct. 16, 1991; Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21244, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.21   Time of submissions.

Changes affecting voting should be submitted as soon as possible after they become final, except as provided in §51.22.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21244, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.22   Submitted changes that will not be reviewed.

(a) The Attorney General will not consider on the merits:

(1) Any proposal for a change submitted prior to final enactment or administrative decision except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section.

(2) Any submitted change directly related to another change that has not received section 5 preclearance if the Attorney General determines that the two changes cannot be substantively considered independently of one another.

(3) Any submitted change whose enforcement has ceased and been superseded by a standard, practice, or procedure that has received section 5 preclearance or that is otherwise legally enforceable under section 5.

(b) For any change requiring approval by referendum, by a State or Federal court, or by a Federal agency, the Attorney General may make a determination concerning the change prior to such approval if the change is not subject to alteration in the final approving action and if all other action necessary for approval has been taken. (See also §51.18.)

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21244, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.23   Party and jurisdiction responsible for making submissions.

(a) Changes affecting voting shall be submitted by the chief legal officer or other appropriate official of the submitting authority or by any other authorized person on behalf of the submitting authority. A State, whether partially or fully covered, has authority to submit any voting change on behalf of its covered jurisdictions and political subunits. Where a State is covered as a whole, State legislation or other changes undertaken or required by the State shall be submitted by the State (except that legislation of local applicability may be submitted by political subunits). Where a State is partially covered, changes of statewide application may be submitted by the State. Submissions from the State, rather than from the individual covered jurisdictions, would serve the State's interest in at least two important respects: first, the State is better able to explain to the Attorney General the purpose and effect of voting changes it enacts than are the individual covered jurisdictions; second, a single submission of the voting change on behalf of all of the covered jurisdictions would reduce the possibility that some State acts will be legally enforceable in some parts of the State but not in others.

(b) A change effected by a political party (see §51.7) may be submitted by an appropriate official of the political party.

(c) A change affecting voting that results from a State court order should be submitted by the jurisdiction or entity that is to implement or administer the change (in the manner specified by paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section).

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21245, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.24   Delivery of submissions.

(a) Delivery by U.S. Postal Service. Submissions sent to the Attorney General by the U.S. Postal Service, including certified mail or express mail, shall be addressed to the Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice, Room 7254-NWB, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530.

(b) Delivery by other carriers. Submissions sent to the Attorney General by carriers other than the U.S. Postal Service, including by hand delivery, should be addressed or may be delivered to the Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice, Room 7254-NWB, 1800 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006.

(c) Electronic submissions. Submissions may be delivered to the Attorney General through an electronic form available on the website of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division at www.justice.gov/crt/voting/. Detailed instructions appear on the website. Jurisdictions should answer the questions appearing on the electronic form, and should attach documents as specified in the instructions accompanying the application.

(d) Telefacsimile submissions. In urgent circumstances, submissions may be delivered to the Attorney General by telefacsimile to (202) 616-9514. Submissions should not be sent to any other telefacsimile number at the Department of Justice. Submissions that are voluminous should not be sent by telefacsimile.

(e) Email. Submissions may not be delivered to the Attorney General by email in the first instance. However, after a submission is received by the Attorney General, a jurisdiction may supply additional information on that submission by email to vot1973c@usdoj.gov. The subject line of the email shall be identified with the Attorney General's file number for the submission (YYYY-NNNN), marked as “Additional Information,” and include the name of the jurisdiction.

(f) Special marking. The first page of the submission, and the envelope (if any), shall be clearly marked: “Submission under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.”

(g) The most current information on addresses for, and methods of making, section 5 submissions is available on the Voting Section website at www.justice.gov/crt/voting/.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21245, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.25   Withdrawal of submissions.

(a) A jurisdiction may withdraw a submission at any time prior to a final decision by the Attorney General. Notice of the withdrawal of a submission must be made in writing addressed to the Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, to be delivered at the addresses, telefacsimile number, or email address specified in §51.24. The submission shall be deemed withdrawn upon the Attorney General's receipt of the notice.

(b) Notice of withdrawals will be given to interested parties registered under §51.32.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order 1214-87, 52 FR 33409, Sept. 3, 1987; Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21245, Apr. 15, 2011]

Subpart C—Contents of Submissions

§51.26   General.

(a) The source of any information contained in a submission should be identified.

(b) Where an estimate is provided in lieu of more reliable statistics, the submission should identify the name, position, and qualifications of the person responsible for the estimate and should briefly describe the basis for the estimate.

(c) Submissions should be no longer than is necessary for the presentation of the appropriate information and materials.

(d) The Attorney General will not accept for review any submission that fails to describe the subject change in sufficient particularity to satisfy the minimum requirements of §51.27(c).

(e) A submitting authority that desires the Attorney General to consider any information supplied as part of an earlier submission may incorporate such information by reference by stating the date and subject matter of the earlier submission and identifying the relevant information.

(f) Where information requested by this subpart is relevant but not known or available, or is not applicable, the submission should so state.

(g) The following Office of Management and Budget control number under the Paperwork Reduction Act applies to the collection of information requirements contained in these Procedures: OMB No. 1190-0001 (expires February 28, 1994). See 5 CFR 1320.13.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order No. 1284-88, 53 FR 25327, July 6, 1988; Order No. 1498-91, 56 FR 26032, June 6, 1991]

§51.27   Required contents.

Each submission should contain the following information or documents to enable the Attorney General to make the required determination pursuant to section 5 with respect to the submitted change affecting voting:

(a) A copy of any ordinance, enactment, order, or regulation embodying the change affecting voting for which section 5 preclearance is being requested.

(b) A copy of any ordinance, enactment, order, or regulation embodying the voting standard, practice, or procedure that is proposed to be repealed, amended, or otherwise changed.

(c) A statement that identifies with specificity each change affecting voting for which section 5 preclearance is being requested and that explains the difference between the submitted change and the prior law or practice. If the submitted change is a special referendum election and the subject of the referendum is a proposed change affecting voting, the submission should specify whether preclearance is being requested solely for the special election or for both the special election and the proposed change to be voted on in the referendum (see §§51.16, 51.22).

(d) The name, title, mailing address, and telephone number of the person making the submission. Where available, a telefacsimile number and an email address for the person making the submission also should be provided.

(e) The name of the submitting authority and the name of the jurisdiction responsible for the change, if different.

(f) If the submission is not from a State or county, the name of the county and State in which the submitting authority is located.

(g) Identification of the person or body responsible for making the change and the mode of decision (e.g., act of State legislature, ordinance of city council, administrative decision by registrar).

(h) A statement identifying the statutory or other authority under which the jurisdiction undertakes the change and a description of the procedures the jurisdiction was required to follow in deciding to undertake the change.

(i) The date of adoption of the change affecting voting.

(j) The date on which the change is to take effect.

(k) A statement that the change has not yet been enforced or administered, or an explanation of why such a statement cannot be made.

(l) Where the change will affect less than the entire jurisdiction, an explanation of the scope of the change.

(m) A statement of the reasons for the change.

(n) A statement of the anticipated effect of the change on members of racial or language minority groups.

(o) A statement identifying any past or pending litigation concerning the change or related voting practices.

(p) A statement that the prior practice has been precleared (with the date) or is not subject to the preclearance requirement and a statement that the procedure for the adoption of the change has been precleared (with the date) or is not subject to the preclearance requirement, or an explanation of why such statements cannot be made.

(q) For redistrictings and annexations: the items listed under §51.28 (a)(1) and (b)(1); for annexations only: the items listed under §51.28(c)(3).

(r) Other information that the Attorney General determines is required for an evaluation of the purpose or effect of the change. Such information may include items listed in §51.28 and is most likely to be needed with respect to redistrictings, annexations, and other complex changes. In the interest of time such information should be furnished with the initial submission relating to voting changes of this type. When such information is required, but not provided, the Attorney General shall notify the submitting authority in the manner provided in §51.37.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21245, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.28   Supplemental contents.

Review by the Attorney General will be facilitated if the following information, where pertinent, is provided in addition to that required by §51.27.

(a) Demographic information. (1) Total and voting age population of the affected area before and after the change, by race and language group. If such information is contained in publications of the U.S. Bureau of the Census, reference to the appropriate volume and table is sufficient.

(2) The number of registered voters for the affected area by voting precinct before and after the change, by race and language group.

(3) Any estimates of population, by race and language group, made in connection with the adoption of the change.

(4) Demographic data provided on magnetic media shall be based upon the Bureau of the Census Public Law 94-171 file unique block identity code of state, county, tract, and block.

(5) Demographic data on electronic media that are provided in conjunction with a redistricting plan shall be contained in an ASCII, comma delimited block equivalency import file with two fields as detailed in the following table. A separate import file shall accompany each redistricting plan:

Field No.DescriptionTotal lengthComments
1PL94-171 reference number: GEOID1015
2District Number3No leading zeroes.

(i) Field 1: The PL 94-171/GEOID10 reference number is the state, county, tract, and block reference numbers concatenated together and padded with leading zeroes so as to create a 15-digit character field; and

(ii) Field 2: The district number is a 3 digit character field with no padded leading zeroes.

Example: 482979501002099,1 482979501002100,3 482979501004301,10 482975010004305,23 482975010004302,101

(6) Demographic data on magnetic media that are provided in conjunction with a redistricting can be provided in shapefile (.shp) spatial data format.

(i) The shapefile shall include at a minimum the main file, index file, and dBASE table.

(ii) The dBASE table shall contain a row for each census block. Each census block will be identified by the state, county, tract and block identifier [GEOID10] as specified by the Bureau of Census. Each row shall identify the district assignment and relevant population for that specific row.

(iii) The shapefile should include a projection file (.prj).

(iv) The shapefile should be sent in NAD 83 geographic projection. If another projection is used, it should be described fully.

(b) Maps. Where any change is made that revises the constituency that elects any office or affects the boundaries of any geographic unit or units defined or employed for voting purposes (e.g., redistricting, annexation, change from district to at-large elections) or that changes voting precinct boundaries, polling place locations, or voter registration sites, maps in duplicate of the area to be affected, containing the following information:

(1) The prior and new boundaries of the voting unit or units.

(2) The prior and new boundaries of voting precincts.

(3) The location of racial and language minority groups.

(4) Any natural boundaries or geographical features that influenced the selection of boundaries of the prior or new units.

(5) The location of prior and new polling places.

(6) The location of prior and new voter registration sites.

(c) Annexations. For annexations, in addition to that information specified elsewhere, the following information:

(1) The present and expected future use of the annexed land (e.g., garden apartments, industrial park).

(2) An estimate of the expected population, by race and language group, when anticipated development, if any, is completed.

(3) A statement that all prior annexations (and deannexations) subject to the preclearance requirement have been submitted for review, or a statement that identifies all annexations (and deannexations) subject to the preclearance requirement that have not been submitted for review. See §51.61(b).

(4) To the extent that the jurisdiction elects some or all members of its governing body from single-member districts, it should inform the Attorney General how the newly annexed territory will be incorporated into the existing election districts.

(d) Election returns. Where a change may affect the electoral influence of a racial or language minority group, returns of primary and general elections conducted by or in the jurisdiction, containing the following information:

(1) The name of each candidate.

(2) The race or language group of each candidate, if known.

(3) The position sought by each candidate.

(4) The number of votes received by each candidate, by voting precinct.

(5) The outcome of each contest.

(6) The number of registered voters, by race and language group, for each voting precinct for which election returns are furnished. Information with respect to elections held during the last ten years will normally be sufficient.

(7) Election related data containing any of the information described above that are provided on magnetic media shall conform to the requirements of §51.20 (b) through (e). Election related data that cannot be accurately presented in terms of census blocks may be identified by county and by precinct.

(e) Language usage. Where a change is made affecting the use of the language of a language minority group in the electoral process, information that will enable the Attorney General to determine whether the change is consistent with the minority language requirements of the Act. The Attorney General's interpretation of the minority language requirements of the Act is contained in Interpretative Guidelines: Implementation of the Provisions of the Voting Rights Act Regarding Language Minority Groups, 28 CFR part 55.

(f) Publicity and participation. For submissions involving controversial or potentially controversial changes, evidence of public notice, of the opportunity for the public to be heard, and of the opportunity for interested parties to participate in the decision to adopt the proposed change and an account of the extent to which such participation, especially by minority group members, in fact took place. Examples of materials demonstrating public notice or participation include:

(1) Copies of newspaper articles discussing the proposed change.

(2) Copies of public notices that describe the proposed change and invite public comment or participation in hearings and statements regarding where such public notices appeared (e.g., newspaper, radio, or television, posted in public buildings, sent to identified individuals or groups).

(3) Minutes or accounts of public hearings concerning the proposed change.

(4) Statements, speeches, and other public communications concerning the proposed change.

(5) Copies of comments from the general public.

(6) Excerpts from legislative journals containing discussion of a submitted enactment, or other materials revealing its legislative purpose.

(g) Availability of the submission. (1) Copies of public notices that announce the submission to the Attorney General, inform the public that a complete duplicate copy of the submission is available for public inspection (e.g., at the county courthouse) and invite comments for the consideration of the Attorney General and statements regarding where such public notices appeared.

(2) Information demonstrating that the submitting authority, where a submission contains magnetic media, made the magnetic media available to be copied or, if so requested, made a hard copy of the data contained on the magnetic media available to be copied.

(h) Minority group contacts. For submissions from jurisdictions having a significant minority population, the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and organizational affiliation (if any) of racial or language minority group members residing in the jurisdiction who can be expected to be familiar with the proposed change or who have been active in the political process.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order No. 1536-91, 56 FR 51836, Oct. 16, 1991; Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21245, Apr. 15, 2011]

Subpart D—Communications From Individuals and Groups

§51.29   Communications concerning voting changes.

Any individual or group may send to the Attorney General information concerning a change affecting voting in a jurisdiction to which section 5 applies.

(a) Communications may be in the form of a letter stating the name, address, and telephone number of the individual or group, describing the alleged change affecting voting and setting forth evidence regarding whether the change has or does not have a discriminatory purpose or effect, or simply bringing to the attention of the Attorney General the fact that a voting change has occurred.

(b) Comments should be sent to the Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, at the addresses, telefacsimile number, or email address specified in §51.24. The first page and the envelope (if any) should be marked: “Comment under section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.” Comments should include, where available, the name of the jurisdiction and the Attorney General's file number (YYYY-NNNN) in the subject line.

(c) Comments by individuals or groups concerning any change affecting voting may be sent at any time; however, individuals and groups are encouraged to comment as soon as they learn of the change.

(d) To the extent permitted by the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, the Attorney General shall not disclose to any person outside the Department of Justice the identity of any individual or entity providing information on a submission or the administration of section 5 where the individual or entity has requested confidentiality; an assurance of confidentiality may reasonably be implied from the circumstances of the communication; disclosure could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under 5 U.S.C. 552; or disclosure is prohibited by any applicable provisions of federal law.

(e) When an individual or group desires the Attorney General to consider information that was supplied in connection with an earlier submission, it is not necessary to resubmit the information but merely to identify the earlier submission and the relevant information.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order 1214-87, 52 FR 33409, Sept. 3, 1987; Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21246, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.30   Action on communications from individuals or groups.

(a) If there has already been a submission received of the change affecting voting brought to the attention of the Attorney General by an individual or group, any evidence from the individual or group shall be considered along with the materials submitted and materials resulting from any investigation.

(b) If such a submission has not been received, the Attorney General shall advise the appropriate jurisdiction of the requirement of section 5 with respect to the change in question.

§51.31   Communications concerning voting suits.

Individuals and groups are urged to notify the Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, of litigation concerning voting in jurisdictions subject to the requirement of section 5.

§51.32   Establishment and maintenance of registry of interested individuals and groups.

The Attorney General shall establish and maintain a Registry of Interested Individuals and Groups, which shall contain the name and address of any individual or group that wishes to receive notice of section 5 submissions. Information relating to this registry and to the requirements of the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a et seq., is contained in JUSTICE/CRT-004. 48 FR 5334 (Feb. 4, 1983).

Subpart E—Processing of Submissions

§51.33   Notice to registrants concerning submissions.

Weekly notice of submissions that have been received will be given to the individuals and groups who have registered for this purpose under §51.32. Such notice will also be given when section 5 declaratory judgment actions are filed or decided.

§51.34   Expedited consideration.

(a) When a submitting authority is required under State law or local ordinance or otherwise finds it necessary to implement a change within the 60-day period following submission, it may request that the submission be given expedited consideration. The submission should explain why such consideration is needed and provide the date by which a determination is required.

(b) Jurisdictions should endeavor to plan for changes in advance so that expedited consideration will not be required and should not routinely request such consideration. When a submitting authority demonstrates good cause for expedited consideration the Attorney General will attempt to make a decision by the date requested. However, the Attorney General cannot guarantee that such consideration can be given.

(c) Notice of the request for expedited consideration will be given to interested parties registered under §51.32.

§51.35   Disposition of inappropriate submissions and resubmissions.

(a) When the Attorney General determines that a response on the merits of a submitted change is inappropriate, the Attorney General shall notify the submitting official in writing within the 60-day period that would have commenced for a determination on the merits and shall include an explanation of the reason why a response is not appropriate.

(b) Matters that are not appropriate for a merits response include:

(1) Changes that do not affect voting (see §51.13);

(2) Standards, practices, or procedures that have not been changed (see §§51.4, 51.14);

(3) Changes that previously have received preclearance;

(4) Changes that affect voting but are not subject to the requirement of section 5 (see §51.18);

(5) Changes that have been superseded or for which a determination is premature (see §§51.22, 51.61(b));

(6) Submissions by jurisdictions not subject to the preclearance requirement (see §§51.4, 51.5);

(7) Submissions by an inappropriate or unauthorized party or jurisdiction (see §51.23); and

(8) Deficient submissions (see §51.26(d)).

(c) Following such a notification by the Attorney General, a change shall be deemed resubmitted for section 5 review upon the Attorney General's receipt of a submission or other written information that renders the change appropriate for review on the merits (such as a notification from the submitting authority that a change previously determined to be premature has been formally adopted). Notice of the resubmission of a change affecting voting will be given to interested parties registered under §51.32.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21246, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.36   Release of information concerning submissions.

The Attorney General shall have the discretion to call to the attention of the submitting authority or any interested individual or group information or comments related to a submission.

§51.37   Obtaining information from the submitting authority.

(a) Oral requests for information. (1) If a submission does not satisfy the requirements of §51.27, the Attorney General may request orally any omitted information necessary for the evaluation of the submission. An oral request may be made at any time within the 60-day period, and the submitting authority should provide the requested information as promptly as possible. The oral request for information shall not suspend the running of the 60-day period, and the Attorney General will proceed to make a determination within the initial 60-day period. The Attorney General reserves the right as set forth in §51.39, however, to commence a new 60-day period in which to make the requisite determination if the written information provided in response to such request materially supplements the submission.

(2) An oral request for information shall not limit the authority of the Attorney General to make a written request for information.

(3) The Attorney General will notify the submitting authority in writing when the 60-day period for a submission is recalculated from the Attorney General's receipt of written information provided in response to an oral request as described in §51.37(a)(1), above.

(4) Notice of the Attorney General's receipt of written information pursuant to an oral request will be given to interested parties registered under §51.32.

(b) Written requests for information. (1) If the Attorney General determines that a submission does not satisfy the requirements of §51.27, the Attorney General may request in writing from the submitting authority any omitted information necessary for evaluation of the submission. Branch v. Smith, 538 U.S. 254 (2003); Georgia v. United States, 411 U.S. 526 (1973). This written request shall be made as promptly as possible within the original 60-day period or the new 60-day period described in §51.39(a). The written request shall advise the jurisdiction that the submitted change remains unenforceable unless and until preclearance is obtained.

(2) A copy of the request shall be sent to any party who has commented on the submission or has requested notice of the Attorney General's action thereon.

(3) The Attorney General shall notify the submitting authority that a new 60-day period in which the Attorney General may interpose an objection shall commence upon the Attorney General's receipt of a response from the submitting authority that provides the information requested or states that the information is unavailable. The Attorney General can request further information in writing within the new 60-day period, but such a further request shall not suspend the running of the 60-day period, nor shall the Attorney General's receipt of such further information begin a new 60-day period.

(4) Where the response from the submitting authority neither provides the information requested nor states that such information is unavailable, the response shall not commence a new 60-day period. It is the practice of the Attorney General to notify the submitting authority that its response is incomplete and to provide such notification as soon as possible within the 60-day period that would have commenced had the response been complete. Where the response includes a portion of the available information that was requested, the Attorney General will reevaluate the submission to ascertain whether a determination on the merits may be made based upon the information provided. If a merits determination is appropriate, it is the practice of the Attorney General to make that determination within the new 60-day period that would have commenced had the response been complete. See §51.40.

(5) If, after a request for further information is made pursuant to this section, the information requested by the Attorney General becomes available to the Attorney General from a source other than the submitting authority, the Attorney General shall promptly notify the submitting authority in writing, and the new 60-day period will commence the day after the information is received by the Attorney General.

(6) Notice of the written request for further information and the receipt of a response by the Attorney General will be given to interested parties registered under §51.32.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21246, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.38   Obtaining information from others.

(a) The Attorney General may at any time request relevant information from governmental jurisdictions and from interested groups and individuals and may conduct any investigation or other inquiry that is deemed appropriate in making a determination.

(b) If a submission does not contain evidence of adequate notice to the public, and the Attorney General believes that such notice is essential to a determination, steps will be taken by the Attorney General to provide public notice sufficient to invite interested or affected persons to provide evidence as to the presence or absence of a discriminatory purpose or effect. The submitting authority shall be advised when any such steps are taken.

§51.39   Supplemental information and related submissions.

(a)(1) Supplemental information. When a submitting authority, at its own instance, provides information during the 60-day period that the Attorney General determines materially supplements a pending submission, the 60-day period for the pending submission will be recalculated from the Attorney General's receipt of the supplemental information.

(2) Related submissions. When the Attorney General receives related submissions during the 60-day period for a submission that cannot be independently considered, the 60-day period for the first submission shall be recalculated from the Attorney General's receipt of the last related submission.

(b) The Attorney General will notify the submitting authority in writing when the 60-day period for a submission is recalculated due to the Attorney General's receipt of supplemental information or a related submission.

(c) Notice of the Attorney General's receipt of supplemental information or a related submission will be given to interested parties registered under §51.32.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21247, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.40   Failure to complete submissions.

If after 60 days the submitting authority has not provided further information in response to a request made pursuant to §51.37(b), the Attorney General, absent extenuating circumstances and consistent with the burden of proof under section 5 described in §51.52(a) and (c), may object to the change, giving notice as specified in §51.44.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21247, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.41   Notification of decision not to object.

(a) The Attorney General shall within the 60-day period allowed notify the submitting authority of a decision to interpose no objection to a submitted change affecting voting.

(b) The notification shall state that the failure of the Attorney General to object does not bar subsequent litigation to enjoin the enforcement of the change.

(c) A copy of the notification shall be sent to any party who has commented on the submission or has requested notice of the Attorney General's action thereon.

§51.42   Failure of the Attorney General to respond.

It is the practice and intention of the Attorney General to respond in writing to each submission within the 60-day period. However, the failure of the Attorney General to make a written response within the 60-day period constitutes preclearance of the submitted change, provided that a 60-day review period had commenced after receipt by the Attorney General of a complete submission that is appropriate for a response on the merits. (See §51.22, §51.27, §51.35.)

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21247, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.43   Reexamination of decision not to object.

(a) After notification to the submitting authority of a decision not to interpose an objection to a submitted change affecting voting has been given, the Attorney General may reexamine the submission if, prior to the expiration of the 60-day period, information comes to the attention of the Attorney General that would otherwise require objection in accordance with section 5.

(b) In such circumstances, the Attorney General may by letter withdraw his decision not to interpose an objection and may by letter interpose an objection provisionally, in accordance with §51.44, and advise the submitting authority that examination of the change in light of the newly raised issues will continue and that a final decision will be rendered as soon as possible.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21247, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.44   Notification of decision to object.

(a) The Attorney General shall within the 60-day period allowed notify the submitting authority of a decision to interpose an objection. The reasons for the decision shall be stated.

(b) The submitting authority shall be advised that the Attorney General will reconsider an objection upon a request by the submitting authority.

(c) The submitting authority shall be advised further that notwithstanding the objection it may institute an action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment that the change objected to by the Attorney General neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

(d) A copy of the notification shall be sent to any party who has commented on the submission or has requested notice of the Attorney General's action thereon.

(e) Notice of the decision to interpose an objection will be given to interested parties registered under §51.32.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21247, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.45   Request for reconsideration.

(a) The submitting authority may at any time request the Attorney General to reconsider an objection.

(b) Requests may be in letter or any other written form and should contain relevant information or legal argument.

(c) Notice of the request will be given to any party who commented on the submission or requested notice of the Attorney General's action thereon and to interested parties registered under §51.32. In appropriate cases the Attorney General may request the submitting authority to give local public notice of the request.

§51.46   Reconsideration of objection at the instance of the Attorney General.

(a) Where there appears to have been a substantial change in operative fact or relevant law, or where it appears there may have been a misinterpretation of fact or mistake in the law, an objection may be reconsidered, if it is deemed appropriate, at the instance of the Attorney General.

(b) Notice of such a decision to reconsider shall be given to the submitting authority, to any party who commented on the submission or requested notice of the Attorney General's action thereon, and to interested parties registered under §51.32, and the Attorney General shall decide whether to withdraw or to continue the objection only after such persons have had a reasonable opportunity to comment.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21247, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.47   Conference.

(a) A submitting authority that has requested reconsideration of an objection pursuant to §51.45 may request a conference to produce information or legal argument in support of reconsideration.

(b) Such a conference shall be held at a location determined by the Attorney General and shall be conducted in an informal manner.

(c) When a submitting authority requests such a conference, individuals or groups that commented on the change prior to the Attorney General's objection or that seek to participate in response to any notice of a request for reconsideration shall be notified and given the opportunity to confer.

(d) The Attorney General shall have the discretion to hold separate meetings to confer with the submitting authority and other interested groups or individuals.

(e) Such conferences will be open to the public or to the press only at the discretion of the Attorney General and with the agreement of the participating parties.

§51.48   Decision after reconsideration.

(a) It is the practice of the Attorney General to notify the submitting authority of the decision to continue or withdraw an objection within a 60-day period following receipt of a reconsideration request or following notice given under §51.46(b), except that this 60-day period shall be recommenced upon receipt of any documents or written information from the submitting authority that materially supplements the reconsideration review, irrespective of whether the submitting authority provides the documents or information at its own instance or pursuant to a request (written or oral) by the Attorney General. The 60-day reconsideration period may be extended to allow a 15-day decision period following a conference held pursuant to §51.47. The 60-day reconsideration period shall be computed in the manner specified in §51.9. Where the reconsideration is at the instance of the Attorney General, the first day of the period shall be the day after the notice required by §51.46(b) is transmitted to the submitting authority. The reasons for the reconsideration decision shall be stated.

(b) The objection shall be withdrawn if the Attorney General is satisfied that the change neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

(c) If the objection is not withdrawn, the submitting authority shall be advised that notwithstanding the objection it may institute an action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment that the change objected to by the Attorney General neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

(d) An objection remains in effect until either it is specifically withdrawn by the Attorney General or a declaratory judgment with respect to the change in question is entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

(e) A copy of the notification shall be sent to any party who has commented on the submission or reconsideration or has requested notice of the Attorney General's action thereon.

(f) Notice of the decision after reconsideration will be given to interested parties registered under §51.32.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21248, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.49   Absence of judicial review.

The decision of the Attorney General not to object to a submitted change or to withdraw an objection is not reviewable. The preclearance by the Attorney General of a voting change does not constitute the certification that the voting change satisfies any other requirement of the law beyond that of section 5, and, as stated in section 5, “(n)either an affirmative indication by the Attorney General that no objection will be made, nor the Attorney General's failure to object, nor a declaratory judgment entered under this section shall bar a subsequent action to enjoin enforcement of such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure.”

§51.50   Records concerning submissions.

(a) Section 5 files. The Attorney General shall maintain a section 5 file for each submission, containing the submission, related written materials, correspondence, memoranda, investigative reports, data provided on electronic media, notations concerning conferences with the submitting authority or any interested individual or group, and copies of letters from the Attorney General concerning the submission.

(b) Objection letters. The Attorney General shall maintain section 5 notification letters regarding decisions to interpose, continue, or withdraw an objection.

(c) Computer file. Records of all submissions and their dispositions by the Attorney General shall be electronically stored.

(d) Copies. The contents of the section 5 submission files in paper, microfiche, electronic, or other form shall be available for obtaining copies by the public, pursuant to written request directed to the Chief, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC. Such written request may be delivered to the addresses or telefacsimile number specified in §51.24 or by electronic mail to Voting.Section@usdoj.gov. It is the Attorney General's intent and practice to expedite, to the extent possible, requests pertaining to pending submissions. Those who desire copies of information that has been provided on electronic media will be provided a copy of that information in the same form as it was received. Materials that are exempt from inspection under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552(b), may be withheld at the discretion of the Attorney General. The identity of any individual or entity that provided information to the Attorney General regarding the administration of section 5 shall be available only as provided by §51.29(d). Applicable fees, if any, for the copying of the contents of these files are contained in the Department of Justice regulations implementing the Freedom of Information Act, 28 CFR 16.10.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21248, Apr. 15, 2011]

Subpart F—Determinations by the Attorney General

§51.51   Purpose of the subpart.

The purpose of this subpart is to inform submitting authorities and other interested parties of the factors that the Attorney General considers relevant and of the standards by which the Attorney General will be guided in making substantive determinations under section 5 and in defending section 5 declaratory judgment actions.

§51.52   Basic standard.

(a) Surrogate for the court. Section 5 provides for submission of a voting change to the Attorney General as an alternative to the seeking of a declaratory judgment from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Therefore, the Attorney General shall make the same determination that would be made by the court in an action for a declaratory judgment under section 5: whether the submitted change neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. The burden of proof is on a submitting authority when it submits a change to the Attorney General for preclearance, as it would be if the proposed change were the subject of a declaratory judgment action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301, 328, 335 (1966).

(b) No objection. If the Attorney General determines that the submitted change neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, no objection shall be interposed to the change.

(c) Objection. An objection shall be interposed to a submitted change if the Attorney General is unable to determine that the change neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. This includes those situations where the evidence as to the purpose or effect of the change is conflicting and the Attorney General is unable to determine that the change is free of both the prohibited discriminatory purpose and effect.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21248, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.53   Information considered.

The Attorney General shall base a determination on a review of material presented by the submitting authority, relevant information provided by individuals or groups, and the results of any investigation conducted by the Department of Justice.

§51.54   Discriminatory purpose and effect.

(a) Discriminatory purpose. A change affecting voting is considered to have a discriminatory purpose under section 5 if it is enacted or sought to be administered with any purpose of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. The term “purpose” in section 5 includes any discriminatory purpose. 42 U.S.C. 1973c. The Attorney General's evaluation of discriminatory purpose under section 5 is guided by the analysis in Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252 (1977).

(b) Discriminatory effect. A change affecting voting is considered to have a discriminatory effect under section 5 if it will lead to a retrogression in the position of members of a racial or language minority group (i.e., will make members of such a group worse off than they had been before the change) with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise. Beer v. United States, 425 U.S. 130, 140-42 (1976).

(c) Benchmark. (1) In determining whether a submitted change is retrogressive the Attorney General will normally compare the submitted change to the voting standard, practice, or procedure in force or effect at the time of the submission. If the existing standard, practice, or procedure upon submission was not in effect on the jurisdiction's applicable date for coverage (specified in the Appendix) and is not otherwise legally enforceable under section 5, it cannot serve as a benchmark, and, except as provided in paragraph (c)(4) of this section, the comparison shall be with the last legally enforceable standard, practice, or procedure used by the jurisdiction.

(2) The Attorney General will make the comparison based on the conditions existing at the time of the submission.

(3) The implementation and use of an unprecleared voting change subject to section 5 review does not operate to make that unprecleared change a benchmark for any subsequent change submitted by the jurisdiction.

(4) Where at the time of submission of a change for section 5 review there exists no other lawful standard, practice, or procedure for use as a benchmark (e.g., where a newly incorporated college district selects a method of election) the Attorney General's determination will necessarily center on whether the submitted change was designed or adopted for the purpose of discriminating against members of racial or language minority groups.

(d) Protection of the ability to elect. Any change affecting voting that has the purpose of or will have the effect of diminishing the ability of any citizens of the United States on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group to elect their preferred candidates of choice denies or abridges the right to vote within the meaning of section 5. 42 U.S.C. 1973c.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21248, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.55   Consistency with constitutional and statutory requirements.

(a) Consideration in general. In making a determination under section 5, the Attorney General will consider whether the change neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group in light of, and with particular attention being given to, the requirements of the 14th, 15th, and 24th Amendments to the Constitution, 42 U.S.C. 1971(a) and (b), sections 2, 4(a), 4(f)(2), 4(f)(4), 201, 203(c), and 208 of the Act, and other constitutional and statutory provisions designed to safeguard the right to vote from denial or abridgment on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

(b) Section 2. Preclearance under section 5 of a voting change will not preclude any legal action under section 2 by the Attorney General if implementation of the change demonstrates that such action is appropriate.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended at 63 FR 24109, May 1, 1998; Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21249, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.56   Guidance from the courts.

In making determinations the Attorney General will be guided by the relevant decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States and of other Federal courts.

§51.57   Relevant factors.

Among the factors the Attorney General will consider in making determinations with respect to the submitted changes affecting voting are the following:

(a) The extent to which a reasonable and legitimate justification for the change exists;

(b) The extent to which the jurisdiction followed objective guidelines and fair and conventional procedures in adopting the change;

(c) The extent to which the jurisdiction afforded members of racial and language minority groups an opportunity to participate in the decision to make the change;

(d) The extent to which the jurisdiction took the concerns of members of racial and language minority groups into account in making the change; and

(e) The factors set forth in Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., 429 U.S. 252 (1977):

(1) Whether the impact of the official action bears more heavily on one race than another;

(2) The historical background of the decision;

(3) The specific sequence of events leading up to the decision;

(4) Whether there are departures from the normal procedural sequence;

(5) Whether there are substantive departures from the normal factors considered; and

(6) The legislative or administrative history, including contemporaneous statements made by the decision makers.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21249, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.58   Representation.

(a) Introduction. This section and the sections that follow set forth factors—in addition to those set forth above—that the Attorney General considers in reviewing redistrictings (see §51.59), changes in electoral systems (see §51.60), and annexations (see §51.61).

(b) Background factors. In making determinations with respect to these changes involving voting practices and procedures, the Attorney General will consider as important background information the following factors:

(1) The extent to which minorities have been denied an equal opportunity to participate meaningfully in the political process in the jurisdiction.

(2) The extent to which voting in the jurisdiction is racially polarized and election-related activities are racially segregated.

(3) The extent to which the voter registration and election participation of minority voters have been adversely affected by present or past discrimination.

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987, as amended by Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21249, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.59   Redistricting plans.

(a) Relevant factors. In determining whether a submitted redistricting plan has a prohibited purpose or effect the Attorney General, in addition to the factors described above, will consider the following factors (among others):

(1) The extent to which malapportioned districts deny or abridge the right to vote of minority citizens;

(2) The extent to which minority voting strength is reduced by the proposed redistricting;

(3) The extent to which minority concentrations are fragmented among different districts;

(4) The extent to which minorities are over concentrated in one or more districts;

(5) The extent to which available alternative plans satisfying the jurisdiction's legitimate governmental interests were considered;

(6) The extent to which the plan departs from objective redistricting criteria set by the submitting jurisdiction, ignores other relevant factors such as compactness and contiguity, or displays a configuration that inexplicably disregards available natural or artificial boundaries; and

(7) The extent to which the plan is inconsistent with the jurisdiction's stated redistricting standards.

(b) Discriminatory purpose. A jurisdiction's failure to adopt the maximum possible number of majority-minority districts may not be the sole basis for determining that a jurisdiction was motivated by a discriminatory purpose.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21249, Apr. 15, 2011]

§51.60   Changes in electoral systems.

In making determinations with respect to changes in electoral systems (e.g., changes to or from the use of at-large elections, changes in the size of elected bodies) the Attorney General, in addition to the factors described above, will consider the following factors (among others):

(a) The extent to which minority voting strength is reduced by the proposed change.

(b) The extent to which minority concentrations are submerged into larger electoral units.

(c) The extent to which available alternative systems satisfying the jurisdiction's legitimate governmental interests were considered.

§51.61   Annexations.

(a) Coverage. Annexations and deannexations, even of uninhabited land, are subject to section 5 preclearance to the extent that they alter or are calculated to alter the composition of a jurisdiction's electorate. See, e.g., City of Pleasant Grove v. United States, 479 U.S. 462 (1987). In analyzing annexations and deannexations under section 5, the Attorney General considers the purpose and effect of the annexations and deannexations only as they pertain to voting.

(b) Section 5 review. It is the practice of the Attorney General to review all of a jurisdiction's unprecleared annexations and deannexations together. See City of Pleasant Grove v. United States, C.A. No. 80-2589 (D.D.C. Oct. 7, 1981).

(c) Relevant factors. In making determinations with respect to annexations, the Attorney General, in addition to the factors described above, will consider the following factors (among others):

(1) The extent to which a jurisdiction's annexations reflect the purpose or have the effect of excluding minorities while including other similarly situated persons.

(2) The extent to which the annexations reduce a jurisdiction's minority population percentage, either at the time of the submission or, in view of the intended use, for the reasonably foreseeable future.

(3) Whether the electoral system to be used in the jurisdiction fails fairly to reflect minority voting strength as it exists in the post-annexation jurisdiction. See City of Richmond v. United States, 422 U.S. 358, 367-72 (1975).

[52 FR 490, Jan. 6, 1987; 52 FR 2648, Jan. 23, 1987, as amended by Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21249, Apr. 15, 2011]

Subpart G—Sanctions

§51.62   Enforcement by the Attorney General.

(a) The Attorney General is authorized to bring civil actions for appropriate relief against violations of the Act's provisions, including section 5. See section 12(d).

(b) Certain violations of section 5 may be subject to criminal sanctions. See section 12(a) and (c).

§51.63   Enforcement by private parties.

Private parties have standing to enforce section 5.

§51.64   Bar to termination of coverage (bailout).

(a) Section 4(a) of the Act sets out the requirements for the termination of coverage (bailout) under section 5. See §51.5. Among the requirements for bailout is compliance with section 5, as described in section 4(a), during the ten years preceding the filing of the bailout action and during its pendency.

(b) In defending bailout actions, the Attorney General will not consider as a bar to bailout under section 4(a)(1)(E) a section 5 objection to a submitted voting standard, practice, or procedure if the objection was subsequently withdrawn on the basis of a determination by the Attorney General that it had originally been interposed as a result of the Attorney General's misinterpretation of fact or mistake in the law, or if the unmodified voting standard, practice, or procedure that was the subject of the objection received section 5 preclearance by means of a declaratory judgment from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

(c) Notice will be given to interested parties registered under §51.32 when bailout actions are filed or decided.

Subpart H—Petition To Change Procedures

§51.65   Who may petition.

Any jurisdiction or interested individual or group may petition to have these procedural guidelines amended.

§51.66   Form of petition.

A petition under this subpart may be made by informal letter and shall state the name, address, and telephone number of the petitioner, the change requested, and the reasons for the change.

§51.67   Disposition of petition.

The Attorney General shall promptly consider and dispose of a petition under this subpart and give notice of the disposition, accompanied by a simple statement of the reasons, to the petitioner.

Appendix to Part 51—Jurisdictions Covered Under Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, as Amended

The requirements of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, as amended, apply in the following jurisdictions. The applicable date is the date that was used to determine coverage and the date after which changes affecting voting are subject to the preclearance requirement. Some jurisdictions, for example, Yuba County, California, are included more than once because they have been determined on more than one occasion to be covered under section 4(b).

JurisdictionApplicable dateFederal Register citation
Volume and pageDate
AlabamaNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
AlaskaNov. 1, 197240 FR 49422Oct. 22, 1975.
ArizonaNov. 1, 197240 FR 43746Sept. 23, 1975.
California:
Kings CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 43746Sept. 23, 1975.
Merced CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 43746Sept. 23, 1975.
Monterey CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
Yuba CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
Yuba CountyNov. 1, 197241 FR 784Jan. 5, 1976.
Florida:
Collier CountyNov. 1, 197241 FR 34329Aug. 13, 1976.
Hardee CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 43746Sept. 23, 1975.
Hendry CountyNov. 1, 197241 FR 34329Aug. 13, 1976.
Hillsborough CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 43746Sept. 23, 1975.
Monroe CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 43746Sept. 23, 1975.
GeorgiaNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
LouisianaNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Michigan:
Allegan County:
Clyde TownshipNov. 1, 197241 FR 34329Aug. 13, 1976.
Saginaw County:
Buena Vista TownshipNov. 1, 197241 FR 34329Aug. 13, 1976.
MississippiNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
New Hampshire:
Cheshire County:
Rindge TownNov. 1, 196839 FR 16912May 10, 1974.
Coos County:
Millsfield TownshipNov. 1, 196839 FR 16912May 10, 1974.
Pinkhams GrantNov. 1, 196839 FR 16912May 10, 1974
Stewartstown TownNov. 1, 196839 FR 16912May 10, 1974.
Stratford TownNov. 1, 196839 FR 16912May 10, 1974.
Grafton County:
Benton TownNov. 1, 196839 FR 16912May 10, 1974.
Hillsborough County:
Antrim TownNov. 1, 196839 FR 16912May 10, 1974.
Merrimack County:
Boscawen TownNov. 1, 196839 FR 16912May 10, 1974.
Rockingham County:
Newington TownNov. 1, 196839 FR 16912May 10, 1974.
Sullivan County:
Unity TownNov. 1, 196839 FR 16912May 10, 1974.
New York:
Bronx CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
Bronx CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 43746Sept. 23, 1975.
Kings CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
Kings CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 43746Sept. 23, 1975.
New York CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
North Carolina:
Anson CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Beaufort CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 5081Mar. 29, 1966.
Bertie CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Bladen CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 5081Mar. 29, 1966.
Camden CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 3317Mar. 2, 1966.
Caswell CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Chowan CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Cleveland CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 5081Mar. 29, 1966.
Craven CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Cumberland CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Edgecombe CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Franklin CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Gaston CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 5081Mar. 29, 1966.
Gates CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Granville CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Greene CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Guilford CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 5081Mar. 29, 1966.
Halifax CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Harnett CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 5081Mar. 29, 1966.
Hertford CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Hoke CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Jackson CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 49422Oct. 22, 1975.
Lee CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 5081Mar. 29, 1966.
Lenoir CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Martin CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 19Jan. 4, 1966.
Nash CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Northampton CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Onslow CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Pasquotank CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Perquimans CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 3317Mar. 2, 1966.
Person CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Pitt CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Robeson CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Rockingham CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 5081Mar. 29, 1966.
Scotland CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Union CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 5081Mar. 29, 1966.
Vance CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Washington CountyNov. 1, 196431 FR 19Jan. 4, 1966.
Wayne CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
Wilson CountyNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
South CarolinaNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.
South Dakota:
Shannon CountyNov. 1, 197241 FR 784Jan. 5, 1976.
Todd CountyNov. 1, 197241 FR 784Jan. 5, 1976.
TexasNov. 1, 197240 FR 43746Sept. 23, 1975.
VirginiaNov. 1, 196430 FR 9897Aug. 7, 1965.

The following political subdivisions in States subject to statewide coverage are also covered individually:

Jurisdiction Applicable date Federal Register citation
Volume and page Date
Arizona:
Apache CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
Apache CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 49422Oct. 22, 1975.
Cochise CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971
Coconino CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
Coconino CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 49422Oct. 22, 1975.
Mohave CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
Navajo CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
Navajo CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 49422Oct. 22, 1975.
Pima CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
Pinal CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
Pinal CountyNov. 1, 197240 FR 49422Oct. 22, 1975.
Santa Cruz CountyNov. 1, 196836 FR 5809Mar. 27, 1971.
Yuma CountyNov. 1, 1964.31 FR 982Jan. 25, 1966.

The Voting Section maintains a current list of those jurisdictions that have maintained successful declaratory judgments from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia pursuant to section 4 of the Act on its Web site at http://www.justice.gov/crt/voting.

[Order 3262-2011, 76 FR 21250, Apr. 15, 2011]



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