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Why the DOJ picked Texas first

The Department of Justice is asking a federal court to restore its power to oversee voting laws in Texas, a power that was stripped away by the Supreme Court's June decision striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act.

“Today I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech to the National Urban League in Philadelphia.

Under Section 5 of the VRA, states and counties with a history of racial discrimination at the polls are required to get preclearance from the Justice Department before making changes to their voting laws. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the VRA, which establishes a formula for determining which particular regions are subject to Section 5.

So why did Holder pick Texas?

Though the Court struck down Section 4 of the law, which more or less creates an automatic preclearance requirement, Section 3 of the VRA provides another way to subject particular areas to oversight: If that region was found to have recently discriminated against minorities at the polls, the courts can enforce the preclearance requirement on it for a set time period. This is what's known as the "bail-in" provision of the law.

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