Election Law

Florence County’s Tax Referendum Can Be Voted on in November

In State v. County of Florence, the Department of Revenue (“DOR”) sought to enjoin the County of Florence from placing a proposed tax referendum on the November 5, 2013 ballot.  The supreme court denied the relief sought.

In 2006, Florence County held a countywide referendum to approve a one percent sales and use tax to raise $148 million for six road projects.  The voters approved the tax.  As of January 31, 2013, a projected $447.6 million had been raised by the tax, but only an amount of $35.6 million had been spent on the six roads.  The tax is set to expire on April 30, 2014.  Florence County sought to put a referendum on the ballet to reimpose the tax but for entirely different projects.  Continue reading

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Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is Unconstitutional

Written by John Tamasitis

In a stunning opinion, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“VRA”) in Shelby County v. Holder.  The 5-4 decision, decided primarily on ideological lines, held that Section 4’s coverage formula for determining which states and political subdivisions would be required to submit all changes to their voting laws for federal approval, pursuant to Section 5 of the VRA, was unconstitutional as applied.  The court reinforced the main points of its decision by highlighting the fact that the recent formula under Section 4 had not changed since 1975.  That formula extended coverage to jurisdictions who implemented voting tests and had less than fifty percent voter registration and/or turnout for the 1972 presidential election.  According to the court, the coverage formula was “based on decades-old data and eradicated practices. Indeed, the coverage formula had remained static since the 1970s because Congress failed to continuously update it to fit the current political landscape.  Thus, while the VRA’s most recent renewal occurred in 2006, and SCOTUS held that the formula was no longer justified by current political conditions. Continue reading

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