Data Analysis Exercise – Voting Rights and Voter Participation

In response to discriminatory voting procedures in some states/localities, the Civil Rights Act of 1965

established a coverage formula to determine which jurisdictions would be subject to additional federal

oversight. Any jurisdiction identified by the formula would be required to obtain “preclearance” from

the Department of Justice before making changes to their voting and/or registration procedures.

Congress renewed the Voting Rights Act in 1970, 1975, 1982, and 2006.

In Shelby v. Holder (2013), the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that a portion of the Voting Rights

Act of 1965 was unconstitutional. Specifically, the Court struck down the “coverage formula” (found in

Section 4 of the C.R. Act) that determined which jurisdictions should be required to obtain preclearance.

Examine the following documents provided in the Scenario Files folder:

Voter Registration and Turnout Rates

Representation in Select Legislative Offices

Objections and Observers in VRA-Covered States

Shelby v. Holder Excerpt

Cite relevant arguments found in the Supreme Court ruling and your own interpretation of the data to

support your answers to the following questions in the form of a memo:

1) How does the provided data support Justice Roberts’ argument?

2) How does the provided data support Justice Ginsberg’s argument?

3) In your opinion, which interpretation of the data is more valid?

4) What additional data would be helpful in determining whether or not Section 4 of the Voting

Rights Act should be upheld?

Your memo should be no longer than 2 pages (excluding headers and references which should be on

Page 3), double-spaced, 12-point font. It should include a clearly developed thesis statement, as well as


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