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Emphasis Votes

Robert Timothy Reagan, Margaret S. Williams, Marie Leary, Catherine R. Borden, Jessica L. Snowden, Patricia D. Breen, Jason A. Cantone
July 18, 2013
Available Online Only

Texas Democratic Party v. Dallas County (Jorge A. Solis, N.D. Tex. 3:08-cv-2117)
During a recount for a state legislative election, one political party and two voters filed a federal action complaining that emphasis votes—in which a voter casts both a straight-party vote and a vote for the specific office—would improperly not be counted because of the switch from punch-card ballots to voting machines. After the recount was completed, the plaintiffs dropped their claims with respect to the specific election, but more general claims remained. The district court found that election procedures with respect to emphasis votes did not discriminate in violation of section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, but they were in violation of section 5 because they had not been precleared. In time, the Justice Department precleared the changes.
Topics: Voting technology; recounts; section 5 preclearance; three-judge court; section 2 discrimination; intervention.

One of many Case Studies in Emergency Election Litigation.