Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The VRA and Michigan?

For those of us who didn't realize that Michigan was affected by the Voting Rights Act, and was under the misconception that the VRA applied to the south and not this most northern of northern states, think again.

Until Tuesday, the small charter township [Buena Vista Township] in Saginaw County was one of just two Michigan jurisdictions included in the list of states and counties across the U.S. that were required to get federal approval for any kind of change in election procedures or practices under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, an attempt to remove poll tests or other obstacles to minorities reaching the ballot booth.

I certainly didn't know about these two Michigan townships being under VRA monitoring, and I doubt most Americans knew about it as well.

Interestingly, both Buena Vista Township and Clyde Township were under VRA supervision but ironically, no one at the Department of Justice overseeing the enforcement of the VRA can explain nor remember why they were included under the VRA preclearance requirements in the first place:

Buena Vista and Clyde townships became covered jurisdictions in the mid-1970s. Although they were included at a time when the law had been changed to take into consideration foreign-language ballots and different percentages of minority turnout and registration, no one in the Justice Department could explain what exactly had led to their inclusion. Most of Buena Vista Township’s population is black; Clyde Township is 33% Hispanic.

Buena Vista Township happens to have a school board that punked the State of Michigan for $580,000 in funding by failing to report it was no longer running a program that was receiving the money for years. As a result the board is on the brink of being removed by the state for its malfeasance.

Some in Buena Vista apparently were hoping the VRA would stop the school board from being eliminated:

But in Buena Vista Township, with a population of 8,842, the impact could be even more immediate. Legislation under consideration in Lansing could allow for dissolution of the township’s troubled school district. Some of the district’s supporters have openly wondered whether the Voting Rights Act protection would require approval from the U.S. Department of Justice before such a dissolution would be allowed, because the district has an elected school board. If so, they could have possibly used the act to block the school dissolution legislation.

Now at least the VRA won't stand in the way of reforming or eliminating a corrupt and wayward school board.

1 comment:

Clayton Cramer said...

Did not about this. Just linked to it.