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24 September 2010

Sandy Springs Bails Out of VRA, Opening Door for Other Cities & Counties to Follow

Thursday, the north Fulton County city of Sandy Springs made history after they became the first Georgia municipality to successfully bail out of coverage under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [Hunt, April (2010-9-23). Feds allow Sandy Springs out of Voting Rights Act. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 2010-9-24.].

Authorities are allowing Sandy Springs to opt out of the federal Voting Rights Act's oversight of its elections.

The Justice Department agreed late Wednesday to exempt the city from the federal requirements. The exemption noted that there had been no allegations of anyone being prohibited from voting in the north Atlanta city in the past decade.

Associated Press (2010-9-23). Feds allow Ga. city out of Voting Rights Act. Macon Telegraph. Retrieved on 2010-9-24.

This is an historic move by the Department of Justice, as it could start a cascading domino effect that results in city after city and county after county applying for an exemption from Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Immediately, the four newly incorporated cities of Chattahoochee Hills, Dunwoody, Johns Creek and Milton are considered the next likely municipalities attempting to bail out. To my knowledge, these four cities have no history of discrimination or adopting voting procedures that have the effect of diluting minority voting strength.

Reading the consent decree that exempted Sandy Springs from provisions of the Voting Rights Act, it is clear that a precedence has been set. Most metro Atlanta counties and/or cities should be able to bailout, if they so desire, using the precedence set by the city of Sandy Springs.

Expect black leaders (and I use that term very loosely) to claim that cities or counties bailing out of federal voting oversight is an attempt
to turn back the clock on racial progress in the south.

I reject those claims.

I've been voting for close to ten years now. When I added my name to the voter rolls, in 2001, I didn't have to pay a tax or read the U.S. Constitution first. I have never been intimidated on the way to my polling precinct. And I haven't seen my voting strength diluted by the adoption of legislative maps that determine representation in the U.S. Congress or the Georgia General Assembly.

So what I'm saying is let's start bailing out, and let's start with Fulton, Fayette Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Henry, Coweta, Douglas and Rockdale counties.