County official: Voting Rights Act's demise won't affect 2014 districts
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Jun 27, 2013 | 3220 views |  0 comments | 107 107 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down part of the Voting Rights Act will have no effect on Calhoun County’s voting districts for the 2014 election, an official said Thursday.

County Administrator Ken Joiner said the Calhoun County Commission’s draft plan for new district lines adheres strictly to Voting Rights Act guidelines, including having a district in the county where a majority of residents are minorities.

“We’ve always done the right thing in Calhoun County,” Joiner said Thursday at the Calhoun County Commission meeting. “We’re not upset by the decision, because we’ve always done things equally and fair.”

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a provision of the Voting Rights Act that determines which states must seek federal approval for election changes.

The ruling means Alabama officials will not need an OK from the Department of Justice when changing voting practices or redistricting, unless Congress updates the determination.

Joiner said most of the preliminary work to draw up new district lines for the 2014 election was completed last year following guidelines set by the Voting Rights Act. In particular, the district in which the minority population is the voting majority will remain in place, and polling places will not change with the redrawing of district lines, Joiner said.

The commission had been working with the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission to submit changes to the federal government, but Thursday’s decision makes the submittal process a “moot point,” Joiner said.

Although Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision won’t affect the commission’s redistricting plans, the ruling could bring in sweeping changes for voting practices in Alabama outside of the county’s control. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said Tuesday that Alabama’s Voter ID Law, which requires voters to show photo identification to vote, is now expected to take effect in 2014 without challenge from the federal government.

In other business, the commission:

— Approved an agreement with the Calhoun County Board of Education to provide labor and materials for parking lot improvements at Ohatchee Elementary and Ohatchee High schools in the amount of $14,050, to be reimbursed by the Board of Education.

— Approved a resolution giving the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce $5,000 for television advertisements.

— Approved a $500 contract with YMCA of Calhoun County to provide recreational activities for underprivileged children.

— Approved $1,500 to the Longleaf Arts Council for a Music Fest on July 20 at Zinn Park.

— Extended a contract through July 2014 with Rite Way Services for janitorial work at the Calhoun County Highway Department Complex for $947 per month.

— Approved the transfer of an alcohol sales license to Triple C Chevron in Angel.

— Declared properties at 7886 Alabama 9, 515 W. 42nd St., and 2704 Simpson St. in Anniston to be public nuisances in need of abatement.

— Dismissed nuisance abatements at 170 Robin Drive and 331 S. Ledbetter St. in Anniston.

Staff Writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.

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