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.

Check out A History of The Voting Rights Act.

The author with Representative John Lewis

The Time for Waiting is Gone

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:56pm
Recently, I had a meeting with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).  I was bringing some youth leaders to his office to discuss racial justice and education.  When we arrived, he starting telling us his story.  We were in awe.  It was a history lesson from the source itself.  He talked about the events on the Edmund Pettus Bridge and showed us photos of his own beating, one of the most infamous attacks by police in history. On March 7, 1965 voting rights supporters, led by John Lewis and others, attempted a march from Selma, Ala. to the state capitol in Montgomery to present then-Governor George Wallace with a list of grievances, demanding the fundamental right to vote for all.
Restoring the Heartbeat of the Voting Rights Act

Restoring the Heartbeat of the Voting Rights Act

By Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Tyler Ray, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:18pm

Today, The Hill's Congress Blog posted a commentary on the importance of Congress improving and passing the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014. Below is an excerpt from the piece, and the full commentary is available here.

"When the Supreme…

Voter Suppression is a Badder, Broader, More Bigoted Problem Than Just This Guy

Voter Suppression is a Badder, Broader, More Bigoted Problem Than Just This Guy

By Julie Ebenstein, Staff Attorney, Voting Rights Project, ACLU at 2:48pm

On The Daily Show Wednesday, we had the misfortune of hearing from North Carolina GOP executive committee member Don Yelton, whose despicable comments on North Carolina's new voter suppression law included "if it hurts a bunch of lazy Blacks that want…

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