The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to lift the requirement that Arizona and other states get federal pre-approval for election law changes could lead to an era of greater competitiveness in the Grand Canyon State’s rigidly partisan legislative districts.
And in Republican-dominated Arizona, that could be a boon to many of the same Democrats who vilified the high court’s decision to gut a key provision of the Voting Rights Act. That defies the conventional wisdom that the ruling was a windfall for Republicans.
According to some election law and redistricting experts, the need to draw airtight majority-minority districts hindered mapmakers’ ability to create competitive legislative districts. The U.S. Department of Justice tended to deny preclearance for redistricting maps that reduced minority voting strength in any way. In some cases DOJ required increased voting strength or a greater number of majority-minority districts, prompting mapmakers to pack as many minority voters as possible into a handful of legislative districts.