Section 2 of the act also gives the department or private citizens the right to sue any local or state government for an improper election practice. These kinds of legal actions, though expensive and difficult, are likely to become the principal tool for enforcing voting rights, and the department needs to gear up to fight many more of them.
The day after the courtís decision, in fact, a group of black and Hispanic Texas residents filed a Section 2 lawsuit in Corpus Christi to stop the stateís revived voter ID law. Texas was one of five states that triumphantly used the Supreme Courtís decision to move ahead on ID requirements that had previously been blocked. Congress has the power to make these suits easier to file ó one way, for example, would be to allow plaintiffs to show that a practice diminishes minority voting rights, a standard in the now-paralyzed Section 5.
Congress can still make Section 5 usable again with new rules for inclusion. For example, it could require pre-clearance for any state found to have violated a federal election law in the last few years, which would include most of the Southern states along with many others. At a minimum, all states and localities should be required to disclose on the Internet any voting change, allowing citizens and Washington a chance to raise concerns.