In-Depth: The lead sponsor of this
legislation, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), believes that designating
August 6 as National Voting Rights Day would highlight the importance
of the Voting Rights Act and “encourage efforts to register voters and
promote civic engagement.” He added that it would “cost nothing” and its
existence alone would “pay great dividends in knowledge, commitment,
and voter participation.”
Of Note: The struggle for voting rights has affected numerous groups
in U.S. history, as ethnic and racial discrimination led to the
creation of barriers to voting for blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Native
Americans in spite of the 15th Amendment — which gave all men the right to vote in 1870. Women were unable to vote until 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified, thus prohibiting the denial of voting rights on the basis of sex.
the presence of the 15th Amendment, state and local governments were
able to require the completion of literacy tests or the payment of poll
taxes as a precondition to voting. This had the effect of disenfranchising minorities, until the Voting Rights Act of 1965
was passed and explicitly prohibited state and local laws which
discriminate against minorities on the basis of race or language.
According to the Dept. of Justice,
this law created a “sharp increase” in black voter registration and has
been called the “single most effective piece of civil rights
legislation ever passed by Congress.”
of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which put preclearance restrictions on
new voting laws in areas that had previously engaged in voter
discrimination was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2013 case Shelby County v. Holder.
States that had previously enforced discriminatory voting laws were
required to get approval from the federal government before putting new
policies in place. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court found that
requirement to be unconstitutional because it was based on data that was
over 40 years old, and no longer reflected current conditions.
Media:Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user hjl)