August 6, 2014 9:45 AM By Nicandro Iannacci – National Constitution Center
Forty-nine years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965, taking an enormous step toward protecting the right to vote for all Americans.Decades of concerted effort on the part of state and local officials to disenfranchise African Americans through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and sheer intimidation had inspired little action from Congress.
But the momentum created by the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the horrified reaction to violence inflicted upon voting-rights protesters marching from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965, drove federal legislators to craft a response.
The resulting legislation, signed into law at the Capitol with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and other civil-rights leaders looking on, has stood firmly for nearly half a century.
Among other measures, the VRA outlawed literacy tests and empowered the U.S. Department of Justice to challenge the use of poll taxes in state and local elections. Passage of the 24th Amendment in 1964 already barred the use of poll taxes in national elections.
Section 2 is largely a restatement of the 15th Amendment, prohibiting any voting rules or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race or color. Amendments to the VRA in 1975 extended its protections to members of a language minority group, such as speakers of Spanish or Native American languages.
Moreover, thanks to another round of amendments in 1982, citizens today who challenge voting regulations under Section 2 need only prove that, in the “totality of the circumstance of the local electoral process,” the rules have merely the effect of abridging the right to vote.
In crafting the original VRA, Congress also provided for special intervention in jurisdictions where racial discrimination is believed to be greatest. Under Section 5, those parts of the country identified by a formula established in Section 4 must obtain “pre-clearance” from the DOJ or the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia before making any changes to its voting laws.
In Shelby County v. Holder (2013), however, the Supreme Court struck down the Section 4 formula, leaving Section 5 intact but requiring legislators to redraw its coverage before further enforcement. Since the ruling, several amendments have been proposed but Congress has thus far declined to act.
For more: http://news.yahoo.com/bruised-weary-voting-rights-act-celebrates-49th-birthday-094610138.html;_ylt=AwrTWfylBORThjUAvXfQtDMD
Supreme Court’s ruling on Shelby County v. Holder (2013) made the Voters Rights WEAKER
Where Tuesday’s Voting Rights Act ruling matters, in one map
June 25, 2013 at 11:37 By Dylan Matthews – washingtonpost
Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which outlines how the government is to determine which states, counties, towns, and other jurisdictions have to have their voting laws “precleared” by the Justice Department, is unconstitutional. But which jurisdictions currently face preclearance, and, barring Congressional action, are now freed from that requirement?
For more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/25/where-tuesdays-voting-rights-act-ruling-matters-in-one-map/
Holder to black leaders: ‘Sacred’ right to vote under attack
5/30/12 11:28 AM EDT By JOSEPH WILLIAMS – POLITICO
Attorney General Eric Holder told a council of African American church leaders Wednesday that the “sacred” right to vote is under assault nationwide, with federal lawsuits and at least a dozen state laws that could weaken — or block — minority access to the ballot box this fall.
Forty-seven years after President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, “overt and subtle forms of discrimination still exists,” Holder said in a speech before the Council of Black Churches. The twin factors of lingering bias and systematic assaults from the right, he said, means that “for the first time in our [lifetimes], we are failing to live up to one of our most noble ideals” – the right to equal access to the vote.
The brief speech was a call to arms for the black church, which since the days of the civil rights movement has been active in fighting for equal voting right for minorities. Holder, who was warmly received by the audience, told them his office is “aggressively” taking on the task of protecting that right, including challenging several state lawsuits that would overturn key provisions of the Voting Rights Act involving redistricting in Southern states and strict new voter I’d laws that could keep minorities, the elderly and young people of all races from casting ballots in the 2012 election – which analysts expect will be decided by a narrow margin.
Ensuring that everyone who is qualified can vote “is one of our highest priorities,” Holder told the council, adding that during his watch the Justice Department has taken on more than 100 cases involving voting within the past year, “a record number.” Since President Bush re-authorized the Section 5 provision of the Voting Rights Act, which requires some Southern states to get federal approval before making broad changes to laws involving voting, “it has consistently come under attack by those who say it is no longer needed.”
Holder also rejected conservatives’ contention that making it easier to vote invites fraud, a key argument in calling for tougher voter I’d laws. Recalling that protesters and faith leaders faced violence and death to gain that right during the 1960s civil rights movement, Holder called on black churches to mobilize as an ally of the Justice Department, informing the larger community and pushing back against restrictive proposals.
“We have to honor the generations that took extraordinary risks” to guarantee equal access to the polls, Holder said. The nation has made tremendous progress, he added, but “this fight must go on.”
Tribal leaders welcome Holder’s voting access plan
Tuesday, 10 June 2014 15:28 by RACHEL D’ORO, Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday his office will consult with tribes across the country to develop ways to increase voting access for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Holder said the goal is to require state and local election officials to place at least one polling site in a location chosen by tribal governments in parts of the nation that include tribal lands. Barriers to voting, he said, include English-only ballots and inaccessible polling places.
In Alaska, for example, the village of Kasigluk is separated into two parts by a river with no bridge. On election day, people on one side have just a few hours to vote before a ballot machine is taken by boat to the other side. Several other Alaska villages have been designated as permanent absentee voting areas, which is something allowed by regulation, according to Gail Fenumiai, director of the state Division of Elections.
In Montana, a voting rights lawsuit is pending from tribal members on the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap reservations. They want county officials to set up satellite voting offices to make up for the long distances they must travel to reach courthouses for early voting or late registration.
“These conditions are not only unacceptable, they’re outrageous,” Holder said. “As a nation, we cannot — and we will not — simply stand by as the voices of Native Americans are shut out of the democratic process.”
After consulting with tribal leaders, his office will seek to work with Congress on a potential legislative proposal, Holder said.
For more: http://www.nativetimes.com/index.php/news/politics/10019-tribal-leaders-welcome-holder-s-voting-access-plan
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C.§§1973–1973aa-6) is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S.
Echoing the language of the 15th Amendment, the Act prohibits states from imposing any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure … to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.”Specifically Congress intended the Act to outlaw the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests in order to register to vote, a principal means by which Southern states had prevented African-Americans from exercising the franchise. The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, who had earlier signed the landmark; Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.
History of Federal Voting Rights Laws
“The 1965 Voting Rights Act, one of the most historic and groundbreaking pieces of legislation in our nation’s history. For those who marched bravely; who worked tirelessly; who shed their blood and gave their lives in the pursuit of freedom for every American, the Act served as the culmination of decades of work to fulfill America’s promise. And for the members of the Moses Generation – including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, who stood alongside President Johnson when he signed the bill into law – it was an affirmation that although the arc of the moral universe may be long, it bends toward justice.
The Voting Rights Act guaranteed African Americans the right to vote at a time when thousands were being disenfranchised across the country. It extended the protection of our Constitution to every citizen regardless of race or religion; color or creed. And in the 45 years since it was passed, the Act has been reaffirmed four times – each one a reminder that we must remain vigilant in guaranteeing access to the ballot box.
As we pause to reflect on the anniversary of that historic moment, I encourage every American to honor the legacy of the brave men and women who came before us – from the foot soldiers to the Freedom Riders – by exercising the rights they fought so hard to guarantee. And together let us recommit ourselves, in ways large and small, to continuing their journey to promote equality and perfect our union.”‘
President Barack Obama – August 06, 2010
US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1863-1963 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)
US Minorities Civil Rights Timeline 1964-2009 (ProPresObama.org Civil Rights Timelines ™)