42 U.S. Code § 1973b - Suspension of the use of tests or devices in determining eligibility to vote

(a) Action by State or political subdivision for declaratory judgment of no denial or abridgement; three-judge district court; appeal to Supreme Court; retention of jurisdiction by three-judge court
(1) To assure that the right of citizens of the United States to vote is not denied or abridged on account of race or color, no citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State with respect to which the determinations have been made under the first two sentences of subsection (b) of this section or in any political subdivision of such State (as such subdivision existed on the date such determinations were made with respect to such State), though such determinations were not made with respect to such subdivision as a separate unit, or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issues a declaratory judgment under this section. No citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State with respect to which the determinations have been made under the third sentence of subsection (b) of this section or in any political subdivision of such State (as such subdivision existed on the date such determinations were made with respect to such State), though such determinations were not made with respect to such subdivision as a separate unit, or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issues a declaratory judgment under this section. A declaratory judgment under this section shall issue only if such court determines that during the ten years preceding the filing of the action, and during the pendency of such action—
(A) no such test or device has been used within such State or political subdivision for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color or (in the case of a State or subdivision seeking a declaratory judgment under the second sentence of this subsection) in contravention of the guarantees of subsection (f)(2) of this section;
(B) no final judgment of any court of the United States, other than the denial of declaratory judgment under this section, has determined that denials or abridgements of the right to vote on account of race or color have occurred anywhere in the territory of such State or political subdivision or (in the case of a State or subdivision seeking a declaratory judgment under the second sentence of this subsection) that denials or abridgements of the right to vote in contravention of the guarantees of subsection (f)(2) of this section have occurred anywhere in the territory of such State or subdivision and no consent decree, settlement, or agreement has been entered into resulting in any abandonment of a voting practice challenged on such grounds; and no declaratory judgment under this section shall be entered during the pendency of an action commenced before the filing of an action under this section and alleging such denials or abridgements of the right to vote;
(C) no Federal examiners or observers under subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter have been assigned to such State or political subdivision;
(D) such State or political subdivision and all governmental units within its territory have complied with section 1973c of this title, including compliance with the requirement that no change covered by section 1973c of this title has been enforced without preclearance under section 1973c of this title, and have repealed all changes covered by section 1973c of this title to which the Attorney General has successfully objected or as to which the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has denied a declaratory judgment;
(E) the Attorney General has not interposed any objection (that has not been overturned by a final judgment of a court) and no declaratory judgment has been denied under section 1973c of this title, with respect to any submission by or on behalf of the plaintiff or any governmental unit within its territory under section 1973c of this title, and no such submissions or declaratory judgment actions are pending; and
(F) such State or political subdivision and all governmental units within its territory—
(i) have eliminated voting procedures and methods of election which inhibit or dilute equal access to the electoral process;
(ii) have engaged in constructive efforts to eliminate intimidation and harassment of persons exercising rights protected under subchapters I–A to I–C of this chapter; and
(iii) have engaged in other constructive efforts, such as expanded opportunity for convenient registration and voting for every person of voting age and the appointment of minority persons as election officials throughout the jurisdiction and at all stages of the election and registration process.
(2) To assist the court in determining whether to issue a declaratory judgment under this subsection, the plaintiff shall present evidence of minority participation, including evidence of the levels of minority group registration and voting, changes in such levels over time, and disparities between minority-group and non-minority-group participation.
(3) No declaratory judgment shall issue under this subsection with respect to such State or political subdivision if such plaintiff and governmental units within its territory have, during the period beginning ten years before the date the judgment is issued, engaged in violations of any provision of the Constitution or laws of the United States or any State or political subdivision with respect to discrimination in voting on account of race or color or (in the case of a State or subdivision seeking a declaratory judgment under the second sentence of this subsection) in contravention of the guarantees of subsection (f)(2) of this section unless the plaintiff establishes that any such violations were trivial, were promptly corrected, and were not repeated.
(4) The State or political subdivision bringing such action shall publicize the intended commencement and any proposed settlement of such action in the media serving such State or political subdivision and in appropriate United States post offices. Any aggrieved party may as of right intervene at any stage in such action.
(5) An action pursuant to this subsection shall be heard and determined by a court of three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 2284 of title 28 and any appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court. The court shall retain jurisdiction of any action pursuant to this subsection for ten years after judgment and shall reopen the action upon motion of the Attorney General or any aggrieved person alleging that conduct has occurred which, had that conduct occurred during the ten-year periods referred to in this subsection, would have precluded the issuance of a declaratory judgment under this subsection. The court, upon such reopening, shall vacate the declaratory judgment issued under this section if, after the issuance of such declaratory judgment, a final judgment against the State or subdivision with respect to which such declaratory judgment was issued, or against any governmental unit within that State or subdivision, determines that denials or abridgements of the right to vote on account of race or color have occurred anywhere in the territory of such State or political subdivision or (in the case of a State or subdivision which sought a declaratory judgment under the second sentence of this subsection) that denials or abridgements of the right to vote in contravention of the guarantees of subsection (f)(2) of this section have occurred anywhere in the territory of such State or subdivision, or if, after the issuance of such declaratory judgment, a consent decree, settlement, or agreement has been entered into resulting in any abandonment of a voting practice challenged on such grounds.
(6) If, after two years from the date of the filing of a declaratory judgment under this subsection, no date has been set for a hearing in such action, and that delay has not been the result of an avoidable delay on the part of counsel for any party, the chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia may request the Judicial Council for the Circuit of the District of Columbia to provide the necessary judicial resources to expedite any action filed under this section. If such resources are unavailable within the circuit, the chief judge shall file a certificate of necessity in accordance with section 292 (d) of title 28.
(7) The Congress shall reconsider the provisions of this section at the end of the fifteen-year period following the effective date of the amendments made by the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Cesar E. Chavez, Barbara C. Jordan, William C. Velasquez, and Dr. Hector P. Garcia Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006.
(8) The provisions of this section shall 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, Cesar E. Chavez, Barbara C. Jordan, William C. Velasquez, and Dr. Hector P. Garcia Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006.
(9) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the Attorney General from consenting to an entry of judgment if based upon a showing of objective and compelling evidence by the plaintiff, and upon investigation, he is satisfied that the State or political subdivision has complied with the requirements of subsection (a)(1) of this section. Any aggrieved party may as of right intervene at any stage in such action.
(b) Required factual determinations necessary to allow suspension of compliance with tests and devices; publication in Federal Register
The provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall apply in any State or in any political subdivision of a State which
(1) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1964, any test or device, and with respect to which
(2) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 per centum of the persons of voting age residing therein were registered on November 1, 1964, or that less than 50 per centum of such persons voted in the presidential election of November 1964. On and after August 6, 1970, in addition to any State or political subdivision of a State determined to be subject to subsection (a) of this section pursuant to the previous sentence, the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall apply in any State or any political subdivision of a State which
(i) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1968, any test or device, and with respect to which
(ii) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 per centum of the persons of voting age residing therein were registered on November 1, 1968, or that less than 50 per centum of such persons voted in the presidential election of November 1968. On and after August 6, 1975, in addition to any State or political subdivision of a State determined to be subject to subsection (a) of this section pursuant to the previous two sentences, the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall apply in any State or any political subdivision of a State which
(i) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1972, any test or device, and with respect to which
(ii) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 per centum of the citizens of voting age were registered on November 1, 1972, or that less than 50 per centum of such persons voted in the Presidential election of November 1972.
A determination or certification of the Attorney General or of the Director of the Census under this section or under section 1973f or 1973k of this title shall not be reviewable in any court and shall be effective upon publication in the Federal Register.
(c) “Test or device” defined
The phrase “test or device” shall mean any requirement that a person as a prerequisite for voting or registration for voting
(1) demonstrate the ability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter,
(2) demonstrate any educational achievement or his knowledge of any particular subject,
(3) possess good moral character, or
(4) prove his qualifications by the voucher of registered voters or members of any other class.
(d) Required frequency, continuation and probable recurrence of incidents of denial or abridgement to constitute forbidden use of tests or devices
For purposes of this section no State or political subdivision shall be determined to have engaged in the use of tests or devices for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section if
(1) incidents of such use have been few in number and have been promptly and effectively corrected by State or local action,
(2) the continuing effect of such incidents has been eliminated, and
(3) there is no reasonable probability of their recurrence in the future.
(e) Completion of requisite grade level of education in American-flag schools in which the predominant classroom language was other than English
(1) Congress hereby declares that to secure the rights under the fourteenth amendment of persons educated in American-flag schools in which the predominant classroom language was other than English, it is necessary to prohibit the States from conditioning the right to vote of such persons on ability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter in the English language.
(2) No person who demonstrates that he has successfully completed the sixth primary grade in a public school in, or a private school accredited by, any State or territory, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in which the predominant classroom language was other than English, shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his inability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter in the English language, except that in States in which State law provides that a different level of education is presumptive of literacy, he shall demonstrate that he has successfully completed an equivalent level of education in a public school in, or a private school accredited by, any State or territory, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in which the predominant classroom language was other than English.
(f) Congressional findings of voting discrimination against language minorities; prohibition of English-only elections; other remedial measures
(1) The Congress finds that voting discrimination against citizens of language minorities is pervasive and national in scope. Such minority citizens are from environments in which the dominant language is other than English. In addition they have been denied equal educational opportunities by State and local governments, resulting in severe disabilities and continuing illiteracy in the English language. The Congress further finds that, where State and local officials conduct elections only in English, language minority citizens are excluded from participating in the electoral process. In many areas of the country, this exclusion is aggravated by acts of physical, economic, and political intimidation. The Congress declares that, in order to enforce the guarantees of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution, it is necessary to eliminate such discrimination by prohibiting English-only elections, and by prescribing other remedial devices.
(2) No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote because he is a member of a language minority group.
(3) In addition to the meaning given the term under subsection (c) of this section, the term “test or device” shall also mean any practice or requirement by which any State or political subdivision provided any registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots, only in the English language, where the Director of the Census determines that more than five per centum of the citizens of voting age residing in such State or political subdivision are members of a single language minority. With respect to subsection (b) of this section, the term “test or device”, as defined in this subsection, shall be employed only in making the determinations under the third sentence of that subsection.
(4) Whenever any State or political subdivision subject to the prohibitions of the second sentence of subsection (a) of this section provides any registration or voting notices, forms, instructions, assistance, or other materials or information relating to the electoral process, including ballots, it shall provide them in the language of the applicable language minority group as well as in the English language: Provided, That where the language of the applicable minority group is oral or unwritten or in the case of Alaskan Natives and American Indians, if the predominate language is historically unwritten, the State or political subdivision is only required to furnish oral instructions, assistance, or other information relating to registration and voting.

Source

(Pub. L. 89–110, title I, § 4,Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 438; renumbered title I and amended Pub. L. 91–285, §§ 2–4,June 22, 1970, 84 Stat. 314, 315; Pub. L. 94–73, title I, § 101, title II, §§ 201–203, 206,Aug. 6, 1975, 89 Stat. 400–402; Pub. L. 97–205, § 2(a)–(c), June 29, 1982, 96 Stat. 131–133; Pub. L. 109–246, §§ 3(d)(2), (e)(1), 4,July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 580; Pub. L. 110–258, § 2,July 1, 2008, 122 Stat. 2428.)
Amendments

2008—Subsec. (a)(7), (8). Pub. L. 110–258substituted “Coretta Scott King, Cesar E. Chavez, Barbara C. Jordan, William C. Velasquez, and Dr. Hector P. Garcia” for “and Coretta Scott King”.
2006—Subsec. (a)(1)(C). Pub. L. 109–246, § 3(d)(2), inserted “or observers” after “examiners”.
Subsec. (a)(7), (8). Pub. L. 109–246, § 4, substituted “Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006” for “Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1982”.
Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 109–246, § 3(e)(1), substituted “section 1973f” for “section 1973d”.
1982—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 97–205, § 2(a), (b), substituted “nineteen years” for “seventeen years” in three places, effective June 29, 1982, and, effective on and after Aug. 5, 1985, completely revised subsec. (a). Prior to such revision, subsec. (a) consisted of 4 undesignated paragraphs reading as follows:
“To assure that the right of citizens of the United States to vote is not denied or abridged on account of race or color, no citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State with respect to which the determinations have been made under the first two sentences of subsection (b) of this section or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an action for a declaratory judgment brought by such State or subdivision against the United States has determined that no such test or device has been used during the seventeen years preceding the filing of the action for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color: Provided, That no such declaratory judgment shall issue with respect to any plaintiff for a period of seventeen years after the entry of a final judgment of any court of the United States, other than the denial of a declaratory judgment under this section, whether entered prior to or after August 6, 1965, determining that denials or abridgments of the right to vote on account of race or color through the use of such tests or devices have occurred any where in the territory of such plaintiff. No citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State with respect to which the determinations have been made under the third sentence of subsection (b) of this section or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an action for a declaratory judgment brought by such State or subdivision against the United States has determined that no such test or device has been used during the ten years preceding the filing of the action for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section: Provided, That no such declaratory judgment shall issue with respect to any plaintiff for a period of ten years after the entry of a final judgment of any court of the United States, other than the denial of a declaratory judgment under this section, whether entered prior to or after the enactment of this paragraph, determining that denials or abridgments of the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section through the use of tests or devices have occurred anywhere in the territory of such plaintiff.
“An action pursuant to this subsection shall be heard and determined by a court of three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 2284 of title 28 and any appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court. The court shall retain jurisdiction of any action pursuant to this subsection for five years after judgment and shall reopen the action upon motion of the Attorney General alleging that a test or device has been used for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section.
“If the Attorney General determines that he has no reason to believe that any such test or device has been used during the seventeen years preceding the filing of an action under the first sentence of this subsection for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, he shall consent to the entry of such judgment.
“If the Attorney General determines that he has no reason to believe that any such test or device has been used during the ten years preceding the filing of an action under the second sentence of this subsection for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section, he shall consent to the entry of such judgment.”
Subsec. (f)(4). Pub. L. 97–205, § 2(c), inserted “or in the case of Alaskan Natives and American Indians, if the predominate language is historically unwritten”.
1975—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 94–73, §§ 101, 201, 206, in first par., substituted “seventeen years” for “ten years” in two places, and “determinations have been made under the first two sentences of subsection (b)” for “determinations have been made under subsection (b)”, inserted provisions that no citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any state with respect to which the determinations have been made under the third sentence of subsection (b) of this section or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an action for a declaratory judgment brought by such state or subdivision against the United States has determined that no such test or device has been used during the ten years preceding the filing of the action for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section with the proviso that no such declaratory judgment shall issue with respect to any plaintiff for a period of ten years after the entry of final judgment of any court of the United States, other than the denial of a declaratory judgment under this section, whether entered prior to or after the enactment of this paragraph, determining that denials or abridgments of the right to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section through the use of tests or devices have occurred anywhere in the territory of such plaintiff, in second par., substituted “on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in subsection (f)(2) of this section” for “on account of race or color”, in third par., substituted “seventeen years preceding the filing of an action under the first sentence of this subsection” for “ten years preceding the filing of the action”, and added fourth par.
Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 94–73, § 202, inserted provisions that on and after August 6, 1975, in addition to any State or political subdivision of a State determined to be subject to subsection (a) pursuant to the previous two sentences, the provisions of subsection (a) shall apply in any State or any political subdivision of a State which the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1972, any test or device, and with respect to which the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 per centum of the citizens of voting age were registered on November 1, 1972, or that less than 50 per centum of such persons voted in the Presidential election of November, 1972.
Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 94–73, § 206, substituted “on account of race or color or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b (f)(2) of this title” for “on account of race or color”.
Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 94–73, § 203, added subsec. (f).
1970—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 91–285, § 3, substituted “ten” for “five” years in first and third pars.
Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 91–285, § 4, inserted provision respecting the making of factual determinations concerning maintenance of any test or device on Nov. 1, 1968, registration of less than 50 per centum of persons of voting age on Nov. 1, 1968, and voting by less than 50 per centum of such persons in the presidential election of November 1968.
Effective Date of 1982 Amendment

Amendment by section 2(a), (c) ofPub. L. 97–205effective June 29, 1982, see section 6 ofPub. L. 97–205, set out as a note under section 1973 of this title.
Pub. L. 97–205, § 2(b),June 29, 1982, 96 Stat. 131, provided that the amendment made by that section is effective on and after Aug. 5, 1984.

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28 CFR - Judicial Administration

28 CFR Part 51 - PROCEDURES FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF SECTION 5 OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965, AS AMENDED

28 CFR Part 55 - IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT REGARDING LANGUAGE MINORITY GROUPS

 

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