Under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, certain states and jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices were required to obtain federal approval, or “preclearance,” before making any changes to their voting laws or procedures. These states included Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, as well as parts of California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota. However, in 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that required preclearance, effectively freeing these states from federal oversight.
Introduction: Brief overview of the Voting Rights Act and the issue of federal approval for voting changes
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) is one of the most significant and influential pieces of civil rights legislation in US history. The VRA sought to protect and expand voting access for African Americans whose right to vote had previously been restricted or denied due to discriminatory practices.
One of the key provisions enshrined in the VRA was the requirement that states with a history of discriminatory voting practices obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws. This meant that, if a state wanted to change anything related to its voting laws (such as voter ID laws, early voting regulations, polling station locations, etc.), it was required to receive approval from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) or through a court ruling. In other words, if a state attempted to introduce new restrictions on voting without first being given the green light by either DOJ or a court, then those new restrictions would be declared illegal.
This provision was highly effective in protecting Americans’ constitutional right to vote regardless of race or ethnicity – until 2013 when it was struck down by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder. Since then, many KAWS Stormtrooper Black states have attempted to pass their own restrictive voting laws, prompting Congress and some states (like California) pass protective measures such as automatic voter registration. But without federal preclearance still available through the VRA’s initial language, these efforts will not be nearly as effective at staving off attempts at voter suppression across the country.
History of the Voting Rights Act: Explanation of the origins and purpose of the act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6, 1965. The act was a landmark piece of legislation that aimed to combat the discriminatory voting practices that had been used to disenfranchise African American voters in the southern states.
The origins of the act can be traced back to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, when activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis led protests and marches to demand equal voting rights for African Americans. Despite the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, which had granted black men the right to vote, many southern states had implemented a range of tactics to prevent them from exercising that right.
These tactics included literacy tests, poll taxes, and other forms of voter suppression that were specifically designed to target African Americans. As a result, many black citizens were effectively barred from voting, which further entrenched the system of segregation and discrimination that existed in the southern states.
The Voting Rights Act was designed to address these issues by providing federal oversight of voting practices in states with a history of discrimination. Specifically, the act required these states to get federal approval before making any changes to their voting laws or procedures.
This requirement, known as preclearance, was a powerful tool for ensuring that voting rights were protected and that discriminatory practices were eliminated. It helped to level the playing field for African American voters, and it was instrumental in bringing about significant changes in the southern states.
Over time, the Voting Rights Act has been amended and expanded to cover a wider range of discriminatory practices and to protect the voting rights of other groups, including Native Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Despite these changes, the act remains an important tool for safeguarding the right to vote and ensuring that every citizen has a voice in our democracy.
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act: Description of the section that required federal approval for voting changes in certain states
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act was a crucial provision that required certain states and jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to obtain federal approval before making any changes to their voting laws or procedures. This provision was designed to prevent discriminatory voting practices such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and other barriers that were used to disenfranchise African Americans and other minority groups.
The states covered by Section 5 were determined by a formula based on their history of discrimination, and included Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and parts of Virginia. In addition, certain counties and municipalities in other states were also covered by the provision.
Under Section 5, any changes to voting laws or procedures in covered jurisdictions had to be pre-cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court in Washington, D.C. This process ensured that any changes would not have a discriminatory impact on minority voters and was a powerful tool for protecting voting rights.
However, in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula in Section 5, effectively ending the requirement for federal approval in these states and jurisdictions. This decision has led to concerns about renewed efforts to suppress minority voting and has spurred new efforts to strengthen voting rights protections at the federal and state levels.
States covered by Section 5: List of the states that were covered by Section 5 and explanation of why they were included
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required certain states to obtain federal approval before making any changes to their voting laws or procedures. The states covered by Section 5 were determined based on their history of discriminatory voting practices, such as literacy tests, poll taxes, and other measures designed to prevent African Americans from voting.
The original list of states covered by Section 5 included Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia. Over time, additional states and counties were added to the list, based on evidence of ongoing discrimination.
In total, nine states were covered by Section 5 at the time it was last reauthorized by Congress in 2006. These states were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. In addition, certain counties in California, Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota were also included.
The inclusion of these states and counties was based on a formula that looked at voting patterns over the previous 25 years. If a state or county had a history of low voter turnout among minorities, or if it had implemented discriminatory voting policies in the past, it would be subject to federal approval for any changes to its voting laws.
The purpose of Section 5 was to prevent states and counties from enacting new voting policies that would disproportionately affect minority voters. By requiring federal approval for any changes, the law ensured that voting procedures were fair and accessible to all citizens.