ATLANTA - Hopes for a simple resolution to the state's plans for realigned voting districts vanished Tuesday when the U.S. Department of Justice asked a federal judge for more time to investigate.
State officials filed papers on the state House, Senate and congressional redistricting maps with the court in Washington seeking to quickly wrap up the required federal review of the maps by year end. The review could have ended Tuesday if the Justice Department had agreed that none of the new district boundaries would weaken the voting power of blacks.
Instead, the Bush Administration said more time was needed to determine how voters might be affected in the 215 districts for 249 representatives. But it said state lawyers had not proven the new districts would have no effect.
The U.S. Voting Rights Act requires federal approval of changes in voting procedures in 16 states that Congress determined had a history of discriminating against blacks. When states redraw their legislative and congressional districts every 10 years after the census, most submit their new maps to the Justice Department for pre-clearance - a process that often takes six months or longer.
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