Since 1965, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) has protected minority voters at the polls.

In June 2013, in a huge blow to democracy, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula used for Section 5 of the VRA, which required jurisdictions with significant histories of voter discrimination to pre-clear” any new voting practices or procedures, i.e., get federal approval from the Department of Justice, and show that they do not have a discriminatory purpose or effect.

Importantly, however, the 5-4 decision did not strike down Section 5 itself, leaving it to Congress to devise a new coverage formula. The ACLU is working with Congress to do just that.

In January 2014, a bipartisan group of legislators in Congress took the first step toward developing a new formula and modernizing the Voting Rights Act: They introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, which contains a set of voting protections that are flexible, forward-looking, and written to capture recent discrimination and stop discriminatory changes to voting laws before elections take place. These include a rolling preclearance formula covering jurisdictions with recent egregious voting records that requires voting changes in those places to be preapproved, an expanded judicial bail-in provision, an enhanced ability for plaintiffs to obtain preliminary injunctive relief for some voting changes, and requirements for jurisdictions to provide public notice of proposed voting changes.

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