Graduation Year

2015

Date of Submission

12-2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Government

Reader 1

Kenneth P. Miller

Rights Information

© 2014 Elena Lopez

Abstract

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed with the intention of providing all Americans with the equal opportunity to vote regardless of race. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, better known as the Preclearance Section, required all jurisdictions covered under Section 4 demonstrate any change to voting practices or procedures “neither has the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.”[1]Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act designated which states or local jurisdictions had their voting laws cleared by the federal government. The enactment of Section 4 and Section 5 successfully abolished Jim Crow laws and provided minorities with equal opportunity to vote. Despite the success of Section 4 and Section 5 in increasing minority registration rates and access to the ballot, these sections face questions as to whether their protections are still necessary today.

On June 25, 2013, the Court decided the case of Shelby County v. Holder. In a 5 – 4 majority, the Court determined the formula used in Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. Though the Court did not rule on the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Section 5 is rendered useless until Congress passes a new preclearance formula.

While it is true flagrant discrimination is not as common as it was in the past, Congress provided evidence of emergence the second-generation barriers aimed to diminish minority voter turnout. Section 5 proved successful at blocking discriminatory voting laws and guaranteeing equal access to the ballot. Without its protections, voters of color risk being disenfranchised by the state and facing many of the same obstacles earlier generations did. As a result, of the decision finding Section 4 unconstitutional, Congress must act quickly restore Section 5 or risk continued discrimination in voting rights.

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