By Kendall Quirk
On Election Day 2018, Justice Department officials were sent to Tarrant County (Arlington and Fort Worth), Harris County (Houston), and Waller County (west of Houston). While Tarrant County election officials reassured the public that their presence was nothing to be concerned about, and Harris County said, “It’s just routine,” many voters may be unaware of the reason for the interest in these counties’ election proceedings. At the time of the Shelby County v. Holder decision in 2013, the state of Texas was a covered jurisdiction under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required the state to submit any changes in voting procedures or election law to the Department of Justice for federal approval to ensure minority voters were protected at the polls. Since pre-clearance is no longer required, states do not have to submit changes to the Department of Justice for approval, yet federal oversight still exists in the form of visits from Department of Justice officials.