And Just Like That" Historical Progress Vanishes

Written by Common Cause Interns on August 7, 2013

Thumbnail for the registration and voting systems campaign

Written by Ben Gramling

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This landmark legislation was the crowning achievement of the civil rights struggle, and it prohibited state and local governments from denying citizens the right to vote on the basis of race or color. The bill curbed ridiculous practices such as literacy tests and poll taxes, which were specifically aimed to disenfranchise minority voters. With the bill came a new era of equality in representation, and endowed people of color with the ability to make their voices heard. That was 48 years ago.

On June 25, the Supreme Court ruled a section of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, citing its lack of relevancy to the modern age. Until Congress passes a new formula to determine which areas are in need of federal electoral oversight, it is nigh impossible for the Department of Justice to hold offending counties and states accountable. Within two hours of the Supreme Court's decision, the Texas Attorney General announced plans to institute Voter ID laws and aggressive precinct redistricting. On July 25, North Carolina passed what University of California, Irvine Professor Rick Hasen called "the most sweeping anti-voter law in at least decades."

Until Congress can endeavor to develop a new formula, they are abiding the active and deliberate suppression of every citizen's most basic right to participatory government.

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Voting and Elections

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