Prior to 2013, one of the ways in which the Voting Rights Act guarded against discriminatory voting laws and procedures was to require certain state and local governments to obtain prior approval (“pre-clearance”) from the Justice Department or a federal court before changing their election rules.
In October 2011, Arizona joined the roster of states seeking court declarations that the pre-clearance required by the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. In the alternative, Arizona sought a “bail out” from preclearance coverage. The ACLU intervened to defend the law on behalf of five Arizona registered voters who are members of racial or language minorities. Discovery began, but in April 2012 Arizona filed a stipulation of voluntary dismissal without prejudice.