St. Mary's Law Journal


Adam J. Cohen


Jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act (VRA or the Act) need to impose multimember districting and non-transferable election systems. The VRA was enacted in 1965 to enforce the promise of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution: the right to vote shall not be abridged on the basis of race. The Act requires any change in election procedures to be approved in advance so that states are not able to continuously disenfranchise voters based on race by simply changing election procedures. Either the District Court for the District of Columbia or the Attorney General of the United States must certify any change to election procedures. States must also demonstrate they have taken steps to ensure minority voters have an opportunity to elect minority candidates. But racial minorities historically have been unable to elect minority candidates into office. Non-transferable election systems offer a solution to the intolerable dilemma that covered jurisdictions currently face. Non-transferable election systems offer voters the chance to district themselves along any criteria they deem important without losing the 51% needed. This system is both constitutional and will preserve and enhance the ability of minorities to elect representatives of their choice to more accurately reflect their voting strength. The implementation of such a system would reliably produce intergraded congressional delegations for southern states. In addition, non-transferable voting would likely increase voting participation by increasing minority representation. Thus, the United States will be able to keep the Fifteenth Amendment’s promise that no American will ever again be excluded from political participation on the basis of race.


St. Mary's University School of Law