Voting Rights Act of 1965

(1965)

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been described as one of the most successful pieces of civil rights legislation ever adopted by the U.S. Congress. Coming at a time when, despite decades of reform efforts, African Americans were still substantially disenfranchised in many southern states, the Voting Rights Act employed various measures and procedures to restore suffrage to excluded minority voters in the South and later in the nation as a whole. In doing this, the Voting Rights Act permitted and even required the federal government to intrude in matters previously reserved to the individual states, significantly reworking the balance between state and federal powers. Furthermore, the act gave reformers the tools they needed to radically transform election laws and procedures. The result was the rapid integration of African Americans and, later on, members of language minorities into the electoral process. In time, the Voting Rights Act brought about a transformation in...

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The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (National Archives and Records Administration)

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