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Voting Rights Act and Judicial Elections Litigation: The Plaintiffs' Perspective

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 73 Issue: 2 Dated: (August-September 1989) Pages: 82-86,118
R McDuff; R E Weber
Date Published
6 pages
These two articles consider the arguments for plaintiffs and defendants in cases challenging judicial elections under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Although defendants have claimed that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act does not apply to judicial elections, the Federal courts have resolved the dispute for the plaintiffs by holding that Section 2 does apply to judicial elections, since judges are elected public officials. The article presenting the plaintiff's perspective argues that the best remedy for noncompliance is the division of existing at-large districts into smaller subdistricts for the elections of judges, with some of the subdistricts containing black or Hispanic majorities sufficient to elect candidates of choice. State defendants claim that the single-member election subdistrict remedy may not always be the best solution to vote dilution by at-large election systems. They argue that multimember election subdistricts should be adopted if at all possible when the minority population is sufficiently large. They also suggest that staggered term and place elections systems can be used when the election subdistricts are sufficiently homogeneous that the systems will not have the effect of acting as anti-single-shot voting impediments to voting participation.