A federal court released Prince William County on Tuesday from requirements mandating that local officials must get the approval of the Justice Department before changing local voting procedures or drawing district lines.
A three-judge panel for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, which has jurisdiction over such matters, agreed with a Justice Department assessment that the county no longer needs to be bound by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Nearly half a century later, officials in Prince William have said that the federal scrutiny is expensive, time-consuming and unnecessary.
“This demonstrates our commitment to those essential rights of our citizens,” said Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) in a statement Wednesday.
Prince William is the largest jurisdiction to be granted a so-called “bailout” from the provision.
Neighboring Fairfax and Loudoun counties have not considered applying for an exemption, according to officials there. The cities of Fairfax and Manassas Park have been granted exemptions, according to Justice’s Web site.
Redistricting for Virginia’s legislative and congressional seats continues to be subject to advance federal review.