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What is the Voting Rights Act?

History and Purpose of the Voting Rights Act

The Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson and was meant to overcome legal barriers that were put up by states in order to prevent African Americans from exercising their right to vote. The Voting rights act sought to protect the 15th Amendment prohibition against denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Even though the 15th Amendment was passed in 1870, various forms of discriminatory practice (notably in the South) were employed to try to prevent African Americans from voting. Southern states employed tactics such a literacy tests, poll taxes, and other forms of oppressive bureaucracy in order to limit the African American vote. The Voting Rights Act sought to end these tactics and further required certain jurisdictions to obtain “preclearance” before they amend any voting laws or rules. The preclearance requirement helped stop voting discrimination before it started. The issue of preclearance became a major thorn in the side of oppressive state governments who were looking to suppress the African American vote. As expected, legal challenges to the Voting Rights Act were made and a significant decision in 2013 harmed the strength and applicability of the Act to any of the Southern states that were previously bound by it. If you have questions about the Voting Rights Act, then you should direct those questions at an experienced civil rights attorney.

2013 Supreme Court Decision

In 2013, the United States Supreme Court heard the case of Shelby County v. Holder, a landmark civil rights case. The Supreme Court in this case invalidated the preclearance requirement, stating that the formula which determines the jurisdictions covered under the Act is old and requires an update by Congress. While the Voting Rights Act itself was not invalidated, the preclearance section effectively killed the force of the Act and now waits with Congress for an update. Two months after the Supreme Court struck down the preclearance requirement, the state of North Carolina instituted a number of new voting measures, including strict photo identification requirements. The state also eliminated same-day voter registration and shortened the early voting period. Legal challenges have been made against these new rules but have been denied at the federal appellate and United States Supreme Court level. Other states have been quick to implement new and often discriminatory voting laws in the wake of the 2013 decision of the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder. If you were denied the right to vote in this last election, then call us at Snow Legal so we can help.

Call Today for a Consultation with Snow Legal

If you have been denied the right to vote, it is important to speak to an experienced civil rights attorney immediately. The attorneys at Snow Legal are proud to offer a initial consultation to anyone who has had their rights violated. Let our experience help guide you towards taking the strongest possible approach for your case. Call us today at (704) 358-0026 or contact us online.