Sunday, February 02, 2020

Voting Rights Act of 1965: Then & Now

Okamoto, Yoichi R., “Johnson signs Voting Rights Act,” Digital Public Library of America,

Voting Rights Act of 1965

"An Act to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes…Section 2. No voting qualifications or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color."

Section 5 of the Act barred states from imposing tests or unfair devices as a means of determining eligibility to vote. 

As soon as enacted, challenges followed suit. But it was the 2013 decision of the Supreme Court on Shelby County v Holder that significantly altered ("defanged federal enforcement of the Act") the Voting Rights Act. This decision removed the "pre-clearance" requirements for states and jurisdictions that have had a history of discrimination in voting practices. Since this decision, states have begun purging voter rolls, enacting voter ID requirements, and redrawing voting districts (racial gerrymandering); all methods of suppressing voter turnout. 

Black Americans continue to lead the fight to maintain and restore voting rights to those under constant threat of disenfranchisement. Representative John Lewis (Georgia) led the fight to reinstate federal oversight of state election law in the House of Representatives in 2019 (although unlikely to see a vote in the Senate). Stacey Abrams's Fair Fight PAC is mobilizing in Georgia and across the U.S. to restore voting rights where voter suppression and election mismanagement is occurring. 

Learn more, available in the Library: 


No comments :