Voting Rights Act
Voting matters. Its power lies not only in the practical, in giving people an opportunity to elect candidates of their choosing, but also through the sense of dignity that it gives to those who are able to exercise it. Withholding the right to vote was a reminder to those excluded that they were not whole; they were un-American; they were nobodies. Indeed, throughout our country's history, the right to vote was denied to those seen to be less than, including to white men without property, African Americans, women, Native Americans, Chinese Americans, and adults under twenty-one years of age.
During the signing ceremony of the Voting Rights Act, President Lyndon B. Johnson modestly characterized the law "as one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom." Since that day, this landmark civil rights law has steadily and surely defeated and deterred countless discriminatory and varied barriers to the ballot.
Under constant review since its passage in 1965, the Voting Rights Act has continued to prove relevant and necessary to protect minority voting rights by the highest courts and lawmakers in the country. In 2006, Congress voted to re-authorize the VRA, extending its authority for the fourth time since its enactment. Before doing so, Congress held 21 hearings, heard from more than 90 witnesses, and compiled more than 15,000 pages of evidence. Support was overwhelming and the message clear: the VRA is still relevant and necessary to protect minority voting rights. Congress renewed it for another 25 years by a vote of 390 to 33 in the House and unanimously in the Senate.