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U.S. Supreme Court voting rights decision could impact areas in Michigan


In its decision announced this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday "effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965," according to the New York Times.

In a 5-to-4 vote, the court said Congress is relying on outdated voting data in subjecting areas to federal oversight. More from the NYTimes:

“In 1965, the states could be divided into two groups: those with a recent history of voting tests and low voter registration and turnout, and those without those characteristics,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “Congress based its coverage formula on that distinction. Today the nation is no longer divided along those lines, yet the Voting Rights Act continues to treat it as if it were.”

The ruling stated Congress can update their data on voting rights to impose federal oversight, but with how Congress operates today that's unlikely to happen.

MPRN's Rick Pluta reports the decision could affect areas here in Michigan:

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act could affect elections in two Michigan municipalities. Voting rules for Clyde Township in Allegan County and Buena Vista Township in Saginaw County could not be changed without pre-approval by the U.S. Department of Justice. That's because both jurisdictions had a history of discrimination in elections. The Supreme Court ruled today that the formula used in the voting rights law is outdated. A local lawmaker had planned to use the Voting Rights Act to file a challenge if the state tries to break up the Buena Vista school district.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.