Supreme Court

Mass. Officials Dispute Claims of Low Minority Voter Turnout

Chief Justice Roberts made claim during Voting Rights Act hearing

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Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. certainly sounded authoritative when he made a striking, though unflattering, declaration about Massachusetts as the high court heard arguments over the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which is ­designed to assure equal access across ­races to polling booths.

"Do you know which state has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African-American voter turnout?" Roberts asked Donald Verrilli Jr., solicitor general for the Department of Justice, during Wednesday's arguments.

"I do not know that," Verrilli answered.

"Massachusetts," Roberts responded, adding that even Mississippi has a narrower gap.

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