Voting Rights Act of 1965: Wikis


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Voting Rights Act of 1965
89th United States Congress

Voting Rights Act - first page (hi-res).jpg

Long title: An act to enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes
Introduced by:
Dates
Date passed: August 3, 1965 (House of Representatives)
August 4, 1965 (Senate)

July 13, 2006 (House) Renewed
July 20, 2006 (Senate) Renewed

Date signed into law: August 6, 1965
Amendments: 1970, 1975, 1982, 2006

The National Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. § 19731973aa-6)[1] outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the United States. Echoing the language of the 15th Amendment, the Act prohibited states from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color."[2] Specifically, Congress intended the Act to outlaw the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests in order to register to vote, a principal means by which Southern states had prevented African-Americans from exercising the franchise.[3] The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, who had earlier signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.

The Act established extensive federal oversight of elections administration, providing that states with a history of discriminatory voting practices (so-called "covered jurisdictions") could not implement any change affecting voting without first obtaining the approval of the Department of Justice, a process known as preclearance. These enforcement provisions applied to states and political subdivisions (mostly in the South) that had used a "device" to limit voting and in which less than 50 percent of the population was registered to vote in 1964. Congress has amended and extended the Act several times since its original passage, the most recent being the 25-year extension signed by President George W. Bush in 2006.

The Act is widely considered a landmark in civil-rights legislation, though some of its provisions have sparked political controversy. During the debate over the 2006 extension, some Republican members of Congress objected to renewing the preclearance requirement (the Act's primary enforcement provision), arguing that it represents an overreach of federal power and places unwarranted bureaucratic demands on Southern states that have long since abandoned the discriminatory practices the Act was meant to eradicate.[4] Conservative legislators also opposed requiring states with large Spanish-speaking populations to provide bilingual ballots.[5] Congress nonetheless voted to extend the Act for twenty-five years with its original enforcement provisions left intact.[6]

Contents

Background

The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865 after the Civil War, abolished and prohibited slavery and secured a minimal degree of citizenship to former slaves. The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, granted citizenship to all people “born or naturalized in the United States,” and included the due process and equal protection clauses. This amendment failed to explicitly prohibit vote discrimination on racial grounds.

The prohibition of voting rights discrimination on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of slavery was first codified by the 15th Amendment to the Constitution in 1870. Soon after the end of Reconstruction, starting in the 1870s, Southern Democratic legislators found other means to deny the vote to blacks, through violence, intimidation, and Jim Crow laws.

The 15th Amendment, ratified on February 3, 1870, provided that The right of U.S. citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The Congress was given the authority to enforce those rights and regulate the voting process. From 1890 to 1908, however, 10 Southern states wrote new constitutions with provisions that included literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses that permitted otherwise disqualified voters whose grandfathers voted (thus allowing some white illiterates to vote), some with the aim and effect of re-imposing racially motivated restrictions on the voting process that disfranchised blacks. State provisions applied to all voters and were upheld by the Supreme Court in early litigation, from 1875 (United States v. Cruikshank) through 1904. During the early 20th century, the Supreme Court began to find such provisions unconstitutional in litigation of cases brought by African Americans and poor whites. States reacted rapidly in devising new legislation to continue disfranchisement of most blacks and many poor whites. Although there were numerous court cases brought to the Supreme Court, through the 1960s, Southern states effectively disfranchised most blacks.

In 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was created with the mission to promote blacks' civil rights, including to "secure for them impartial suffrage." The NAACP's success was limited: although they did achieve important judicial rulings by the Supreme Court and some legislative successes, Southern legislators quickly devised alternate ways to keep many southern blacks disfranchised through the early 1960s.

Following the 1964 election, a variety of civil rights organizations banded together to push for the passage of legislation that would ensure black voting rights once and for all. The campaign to bring about federal intervention to prevent discrimination in voting culminated in the voting rights protests in Selma, Alabama, and the famous Selma to Montgomery marches. Demonstrations also brought out white violence, and Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Reeb, and Viola Liuzzo were murdered. President Lyndon B. Johnson, in a dramatic joint-session address, called upon Congress to enact a strong voting rights bill. Johnson's administration drafted a bill intended to enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments, aiming to eliminate various previously legal strategies to prevent blacks and other minorities from voting.

Legislative history

Final page of the Voting Rights Act, signed by President Johnson, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House

The Act was sent to Congress by President Johnson on March 17, 1965. The bill passed the Senate on May 26, 1965 (after a successful cloture vote on March 23), by a vote of seventy-seven to nineteen. The House was slower to give its approval. After five weeks of debate, it was finally passed on July 9. After differences between the two bills were resolved in conference, the House passed the Conference Report on August 3, the Senate on August 4. On August 6, President Johnson signed the Act into law with Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and other civil rights leaders in attendance.

Vote count

The two numbers in each line of this list refer to the number of representatives voting in favor and against the act, respectively.

Senate: 77–19

  • Democrats: 47–17 (73%-27%)
  • Republicans: 30–2 (94%-6%)

House: 333–85

  • Democrats: 221–61 (78%-22%)
  • Republicans: 112–24 (82%-18%)

Conference Report:

Senate: 79–18

House: 328–74

  • Democrats: 217–54
  • Republicans: 111–20

Periodic renewal

Some temporary sections of the Voting Rights Act (none involving the outlawing of poll taxes or literacy tests, which are permanently banned)[7] have been renewed four times and remain in force. These provisions were renewed in 1970, 1975, 1982, and 2006. In the 1982 action, Congress amended the Act to make some sections (including section 2) permanent while renewing the remainder (including section 5) for 25 years, until (July 1, 2007).

In July 2006, 41 years after the Voting Rights Act passed, renewal of the temporary provisions enjoyed bi-partisan support. However, a number of Republican lawmakers acted to amend, delay or defeat renewal of the Act for various reasons. One group of lawmakers led by Georgia congressman Lynn Westmoreland came from some preclearance states, and claimed that it was no longer fair to target their states, given the passage of time since 1965 and the changes their states had made to provide fair elections and voting. Another group of 80 legislators supported an amendment offered by Steve King of Iowa, seeking to strip provisions from the Act that required that translators or multilingual ballots be provided for U.S. citizens who do not speak English.[8] The "King letter" said that providing ballots or interpreters in multiple languages is a costly, unfunded mandate.

The bill to renew the Act was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, 390-33, with support from Republican House leadership, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.. The U.S. Senate passed the bill 98–0.[9] This bill renewed the Act for another 25 years.

President George W. Bush signs the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act as lawmakers look on.

President George W. Bush signed the bill in a morning ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on July 27, 2006, one year in advance of the 2007 expiration date. The audience included members of the families of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Also in attendance were the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and other prominent African Americans.[9]

Criticisms

Preclearance

Some municipalities singled out in the Act for their practices in the 1960s, are still required by law to receive federal permission for certain changes to election law or changes in venue.[10] These nine Southern states and mostly Southern counties have complained that the practices banned by the Act disappeared long ago and further compliance with the mandates of the Act are a costly nuisance and an "unfair stigma" to their towns.[8] As an example of the federal bureaucracy involved, Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston said, "If you move a polling place from the Baptist church to the Methodist church, you've got to go through the Justice Department."[8]

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., said:

Congress is declaring from on high that states with voting problems 40 years ago can simply never be forgiven, that Georgians must eternally wear the scarlet letter because of the actions of their grandparents and great-grandparents. ... We have repented and we have reformed."[11]

Some who think that this federal oversight is discriminatory to these particular states have proposed that the oversight be extended to all 50 states or eliminated entirely.[12]

The 2006 extension of the preclearance procedure has been challenged in a lawsuit, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, which was argued before the Supreme Court on April 30, 2009[13]. The lawsuit was brought by a municipal water district in Texas, which elects members to a water board. The district does not register voters, nor has it been accused of discrimination. However, it wished to move the voting location from a private home to a public school; the preclearance procedure required it to seek approval from the Justice Department, because Texas is a covered jurisdiction under Section 5.[14]

Multilingual balloting

The Act requires municipalities that receive requests for ballots in other languages to comply with the request. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) of California said of the Act, "What unites us? It's our language, the English language," and that the Act is "hurting America by making it easier not to learn English."[11]

Gerrymandering

Some judges and proponents of racially drawn congressional districts have interpreted Section 5 of the Act as requiring racial gerrymandering in order to ensure minority representation.[15][16] The United States Supreme Court in Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900 (1995), overturned a 1992 Congressional redistricting plan which had created minority majority districts in Georgia as unconstitional gerrymandering.

Section 2

Section 2 contains a general prohibition on voting discrimination, enforced through federal district court litigation. Congress amended this section in 1982, prohibiting any voting practice or procedure that has a discriminatory result. The 1982 amendment provided that proof of intentional discrimination is not required. The provision focused instead on whether the electoral processes are equally accessible to minority voters.[17] This section is permanent and does not require renewal.

On March 9, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bartlett v. Strickland that the Voting Rights Act does not require governments to draw district lines favorable to minority candidates when the district has minorities as less than half of the population.[18]

Section 5 - Preclearance

Section 5 of the Act requires that the United States Department of Justice, through an administrative procedure, or a three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, through a declaratory judgment action "preclear" any attempt to change “any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting..." in any "covered jurisdiction." The Supreme Court gave a broad interpretation to the words "any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting" in Allen v. State Board of Election, 393 U.S. 544 (1969). A covered jurisdiction that seeks to obtain Section 5 Preclearance, either from the United States Attorney General or the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, must demonstrate that a proposed voting change does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of discriminating based on race or color. In some cases, they must also show that the proposed change does not have the purpose or effect of discriminating against a "language minority group." Membership in a language minority group includes "persons who are American Indian, Asian American, Alaskan Natives or of Spanish heritage." The burden of proof under current Section 5 jurisprudence is on the covered jurisdiction to establish that the proposed change does not have a retrogressive purpose.[19]

Covered jurisdictions may not implement voting changes without federal Preclearance. The Justice Department has 60 days to respond to a request for a voting change. If the Justice Department or federal court rejects a request for Preclearance, the jurisdiction may continue the prior voting practice or may adopt a substitute and seek Preclearance for it. If the jurisdiction implements a voting change before the Justice Department denies Preclearance in contravention of the Act, the jurisdiction must return to the pre-existing practice or enact a different change.

Those states which had less than 50 percent of the voting age population voting in 1960 and/or 1964 were covered in the original act. (The average percentage of the voting age population participating in a presidential election then was in the mid-60s, instead of about 50 percent, as has occurred in 1996, 2000, and 2004.) In addition, some counties and towns that have been found in violation of section 2 have been added. Some cities and counties in Virginia (see below) have since been found no longer to need Preclearance.

The United States Commission on Civil Rights recently reviewed the Justice Department Preclearance record and found that the percentage of DOJ objections to submitted changes has declined markedly throughout the 40-year period of the Act: from 5.5 percent in the first period to 1.2 percent in the second, and to 0.6 percent in the third. Over the last 10 years, the overall objection rate was so low as to be practically negligible, at less than 0.1 percent.[20] The Commission's two Democratic members dissented from the report, charging that the Commission had "abandon[ed] the field of battle."[21]

In the case Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder (2009), the Supreme Court ruled that the district should have greater capability of applying for exemption from this section.[22]

The jurisdictions listed below must be precleared (see 28 C.F.R. part 51 appendix[23]):

Us s5 cvr08.PNG

States

Counties

Townships

Bail out

The term "bail out" refers to the process by which covered jurisdictions may seek exemption from Section 5 coverage. In order to bail out, a covered jurisdiction needs to obtain a declaratory judgment from the District Court for the District of Columbia. The 17 Virginia jurisdictions not covered by Section 5 Preclearance requirements have all successfully "bailed out."[citation needed]

Before August 1984, this process required covered jurisdictions to demonstrate that the voting test that they used immediately before coverage was not used in a discriminatory fashion. The 1982 amendment included two significant changes. First, Congress provided that where a state is covered in its entirety, individual counties in that state may separately bail out. Second, Congress completely redesigned the bailout standard. The post-1984 bailout standard requires that a covered jurisdiction demonstrate nondiscriminatory behavior during the 10 years prior to filing and while the action is pending and that it has taken affirmative steps to improve minority voting opportunities.[24]

No affirmative right to vote

While the title of the Voting Rights Act might imply that it established an explicit right to vote for President for U.S. citizens, there is no such federal right. However, the Voting Rights Act and three constitutional amendments that prevent discrimination in granting the franchise have established in United States Supreme Court jurisprudence that there is a "fundamental right" in the franchise, even though voting remains a state-granted privilege. However, states are given considerable leeway when it comes to this "fundamental right".

In Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000), the Supreme Court noted that, "The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States," a logical conclusion given the history of the Electoral College. States do not have to extend suffrage to ex-felons, nor do they have to allow citizens to register and vote on Election Day. In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld voter ID laws, claiming that the states had an interest in deterring voter fraud.[25]. While the Supreme Court has stated that the right to vote and the right to be a candidate are connected, they have often upheld state laws that make it difficult for independent and minor party candidates to be included on the election ballot.[26]

Washington, D.C., not being a state, has been granted only limited voting rights by Congress, which controls the District "in all cases whatsoever", according to the District Clause of the Constitution.[27] U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. re-introduced House Joint Resolution 28 in March 2005 to amend the U.S. Constitution and create a federal right to vote.[28] The resolution had 60 co-sponsors as of October 2006.[29]

See also

Sources

Finley, Keith M. Delaying the Dream: Southern Senators and the Fight Against Civil Rights, 1938-1965 (Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University Press, 2008).

References

  1. ^ "United States Department of Justice - Voting Rights Act of 1965". U.S. Department of Justice. 2006-03-20. http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/misc/faq.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  2. ^ "The Voting Rights Act of 1965". U.S. National Archives. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=100&page=transcript. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  3. ^ "The Voting Rights Act of 1965". United States Department of Justice. http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/intro/intro_b.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  4. ^ "Rebellion Stalls Extension of Voting Rights Act". The New York Times. 2006-06-22. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/22/washington/22vote.html?scp=4&sq=voting+rights+act&st=nyt. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  5. ^ "GOP Rebellion Stops Voting Rights Act". Washington Post. 2006-06-22. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/21/AR2006062101910.html. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  6. ^ "By a Vote of 98-0, Senate Approves 25-year Extension of Voting Rights Act". The New York Times. 2006-07-21. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B04E1DA173FF932A15754C0A9609C8B63&scp=7&sq=voting+rights+act&st=nyt. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  7. ^ "House Renews Voting Rights Act Provisions". San Francisco Chronicle. 2006-07-14. http://aad.english.ucsb.edu/docs/07-14-06fulbright.htm. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  8. ^ a b c "GOP Rebellion Stops Voting Rights Act". Washington Post. 2006-06-22. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/21/AR2006062101910.html. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  9. ^ a b "Bush signs Voting Rights Act extension: Historic 1965 law renewed for 25 years". Associated Press. 2006-07-21. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14059113/. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  10. ^ "Renewal of Voting Rights Act postponed". Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/06/22/renewal_of_voting_rights_act_postponed/. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  11. ^ a b "House Renews Voting Rights Act Unchanged". CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/07/14/ap/politics/mainD8IRNHO85.shtml. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  12. ^ "Voting Rights Act". Court TV. http://web.archive.org/web/20071121072336/http://www.courttv.com/ipoj/voting_act/voting-rights-act.html. Retrieved 2009-04-19. (archived from the original on 2007-11-21)
  13. ^ AJC Article 30 April
  14. ^ LA Times Article 30 April
  15. ^ "Faith, race and Barack Obama". The Economist. 2006-07-06. http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=7141808. 
  16. ^ Article | Birth of a Gerrymander
  17. ^ U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, "Voting Rights Enforcement and Reauthorization: The Department of Justice's Record of Enforcing the Temporary Voting Rights Act Provisions". May 2006. http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/051006VRAStatReport.pdf U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,.  at 3
  18. ^ Barnes, Robert (2009-03-10). "Supreme Court Restricts Voting Rights Act's Scope". The Washington Post: p. A2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/09/AR2009030900987.html. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  19. ^ U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, "Voting Rights Enforcement and Reauthorization: The Department of Justice's Record of Enforcing the Temporary Voting Rights Act Provisions". May 2006. http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/051006VRAStatReport.pdf U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,.  at 6
  20. ^ U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, "Voting Rights Enforcement and Reauthorization: The Department of Justice's Record of Enforcing the Temporary Voting Rights Act Provisions" (PDF). May 2006. http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/051006VRAStatReport.pdf U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,.  at 62
  21. ^ U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, "Voting Rights Enforcement and Reauthorization: The Department of Justice's Record of Enforcing the Temporary Voting Rights Act Provisions" (PDF). May 2006. http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/051006VRAStatReport.pdf U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,.  at 91 (Commissioners Michael Yaki and Arlan Melendez, dissenting)
  22. ^ Stout, David (2009-06-23). "Justices Let Stand a Central Provision of Voting Rights Act". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/us/23scotus.html?hp. Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  23. ^ "Jurisdictions Covered Under Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, as Amended". http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/28cfr/51/apdx_txt.php. 
  24. ^ U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, "Voting Rights Enorcement and Reauthorization: An Examination of the Act's Section 5 Preclearance Provision". April 2006. http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/060706VRAbrief524.pdf U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,. at 44
  25. ^ "Voter ID Law Upheld". Los Angeles Times. 2008-04-29. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-scotus29apr29,0,3274907.story. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  26. ^ Ballot Access News
  27. ^ Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533 (1964) at 561-562: "Undoubtedly, the right of suffrage is a fundamental matter in a free and democratic society. Especially since the right to exercise the franchise in a free and unimpaired manner is preservative of other basic civil and political rights, any alleged infringement of the right of citizens to vote must be carefully and meticulously scrutinized." Almost a century ago, in Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886) at 370, the Court referred to "the political franchise of voting" as "a fundamental political right, because preservative of all rights."
  28. ^ "A Proposed Amendment to Establish a Constitutional Right to Vote in America". March 2005. http://reclaimdemocracy.org/political_reform/amendment_constitutional_voting_right.html. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  29. ^ "H.J.RES.28". Library of Congress. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d109:28:./list/bss/d109HJ.lst:@@@P. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

Voting Rights Act of 1965
Public Law 89-110

by United States Congress
This act was signed into law on August 6, 1965, by President Lyndon Johnson. It outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting.
Wikipedia logo Wikipedia has more on:
Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Eighty-ninth Congress of the United States of America
At the First Session
Begun and held at the city of Washington, on Monday, the fourth day of December, one thousand nine hundred and sixty-five
AN ACT
To enforce the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act shall be known as the "Voting Rights Act of 1965".

SEC. 2. No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.

SEC. 3. (a) Whenever the Attorney General institutes a proceeding under any statute to enforce the guarantees of the fifteenth amendment in any State or political subdivision the court shall authorize the appointment of Federal examiners by the United States Civil Service Commission in accordance with section 6 to serve for such period of time and for such political subdivisions as the court shall determine is appropriate to enforce the guarantees of the fifteenth amendment (1) as part of any interlocutory order if the court determines that the appointment of such examiners is necessary to enforce such guarantees or (2) as part of any final judgment if the court finds that violations of the fifteenth amendment justifying equitable relief have occurred in such State or subdivision: Provided, That the court need not authorize the appointment of examiners if any incidents of denial or abridgement of the right to vote on account of race or color (1) have been few in number and have been promptly and effectively corrected by State or local action, (2) the continuing effect of such incidents has been eliminated, and (3) there is no reasonable probability of their recurrence in the future.

(b) If in a proceeding instituted by the Attorney General under any statute to enforce the guarantees of the fifteenth amendment in any State or political subdivision the court finds that a test or device has been used for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color, it shall suspend the use of tests and devices in such State or political subdivisions as the court shall determine is appropriate and for such period as it deems necessary.

(c) If in any proceeding instituted by the Attorney General under any statute to enforce the guarantees of the fifteenth amendment in any State or political subdivision the court finds that violations of the fifteenth amendment justifying equitable relief have occurred within the territory of such State or political subdivision, the court, in addition to such relief as it may grant, shall retain jurisdiction for such period as it may deem appropriate and during such period no voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect at the time the proceeding was commenced shall be enforced unless and until the court finds that such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color: Provided, That such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure may be enforced if the qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure has been submitted by the chief legal officer or other appropriate official of such State or subdivision to the Attorney General and the Attorney General has not interposed an objection within sixty days after such submission, except that neither the court's finding nor the Attorney General's failure to object shall bar a subsequent action to enjoin enforcement of such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure.

SEC. 4. (a) To assure that the right of citizens of the United States to vote is not denied or abridged on account of race or color, no citizen shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his failure to comply with any test or device in any State with respect to which the determinations have been made under subsection (b) or in any political subdivision with respect to which such determinations have been made as a separate unit, unless the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in an action for a declaratory judgment brought by such State or subdivision against the United States has determined that no such test or device has been used during the five years preceding the filing of the action for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color: Provided, That no such declaratory judgment shall issue with respect to any plaintiff for a period of five years after the entry of a final judgment of any court of the United States, other than the denial of a declaratory judgment under this section, whether entered prior to or after the enactment of this Act, determining that denials or abridgments of the right to vote on account of race or color through the use of such tests or devices have occurred anywhere in the territory of such plaintiff. An action pursuant to this subsection shall be heard and determined by a court of three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 2284 of title 28 of the United States Code and any appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court. The court shall retain jurisdiction of any action pursuant to this subsection for five years after judgment and shall reopen the action upon motion of the Attorney General alleging that a test or device has been used for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color.

If the Attorney General determines that he has no reason to believe that any such test or device has been used during the five years preceding the filing of the action for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, he shall consent to the entry of such judgment

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) shall apply in any State or in any political subdivision of a state which (1) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1964, any test or device, and with respect to which (2) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 percentum of the persons of voting age residing therein were registered on November 1, 1964, or that less than 50 percentum of such persons voted in the presidential election of November 1964.

A determination or certification of the Attorney General or of the Director of the Census under this section or under section 6 or section 13 shall not be reviewable in any court and shall be effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

(c) The phrase "test or device" shall mean any requirement that a person as a prerequisite for voting or registration for voting (1) demonstrate the ability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter, (2) demonstrate any educational achievement or his knowledge of any particular subject, (3) possess good moral character, or (4) prove his qualifications by the voucher of registered voters or members of any other class.

(d) For purposes of this section no State or political subdivision shall be determined to have engaged in the use of tests or devices for the purpose or with the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color if (1) incidents of such use have been few in number and have been promptly and effectively corrected by State or local action, (2) the continuing effect of such incidents has been eliminated, and (3) there is no reasonable probability of their recurrence in the future.

(e) (1) Congress hereby declares that to secure the rights under the fourteenth amendment of persons educated in American-flag schools in which the predominant classroom language was other than English, it is necessary to prohibit the States from conditioning the right to vote of such persons on ability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter in the English language. (2) No person who demonstrates that he has successfully completed the sixth primary grade in a public school in, or a private school accredited by, any State or territory, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in which the predominant classroom language was other than English, shall be denied the right to vote in any Federal, State, or local election because of his inability to read, write, understand, or interpret any matter in the English language, except that, in States in which State law provides that a different level of education is presumptive of literacy, he shall demonstrate that he has successfully completed an equivalent level of education in a public school in, or a private school accredited by, any State or territory, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in which the predominant classroom language was other than English.

SEC. 5. Whenever a State or political subdivision with respect to which the prohibitions set forth in section 4(a) are in effect shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1964, such State or subdivision may institute an action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment that such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, and unless and until the court enters such judgment no person shall be denied the right to vote for failure to comply with such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure: Provided, That such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure may be enforced without such proceeding if the qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure has been submitted by the chief legal officer or other appropriate official of such State or subdivision to the Attorney General and the Attorney General has not interposed an objection within sixty days after such submission, except that neither the Attorney General's failure to object nor a declaratory judgment entered under this section shall bar a subsequent action to enjoin enforcement of such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure. Any action under this section shall be heard and determined by a court of three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 2284 of title 28 of the United States Code and any appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court.

SEC. 6. Whenever (a) a court has authorized the appointment of examiners pursuant to the provisions of section 3(a), or (b) unless a declaratory judgment has been rendered under section 4(a), the Attorney General certifies with respect to any political subdivision named in, or included within the scope of, determinations made under section 4(b) that (1) he has received complaints in writing from twenty or more residents of such political subdivision alleging that they have been denied the right to vote under color of law on account of race or color, and that he believes such complaints to be meritorious, or (2) that, in his judgment (considering, among other factors, whether the ratio of nonwhite persons to white persons registered to vote within such subdivision appears to him to be reasonably attributable to violations of the fifteenth amendment or whether substantial evidence exists that bona fide efforts are being made within such subdivision to comply with the fifteenth amendment), the appointment of examiners is otherwise necessary to enforce the guarantees of the fifteenth amendment, the Civil Service Commission shall appoint as many examiners for such subdivision as it may deem appropriate to prepare and maintain lists of persons eligible to vote in Federal, State, and local elections. Such examiners, hearing officers provided for in section 9(a), and other persons deemed necessary by the Commission to carry out the provisions and purposes of this Act shall be appointed, compensated, and separated without regard to the provisions of any statute administered by the Civil Service Commission, and service under this Act shall not be considered employment for the purposes of any statute administered by the Civil Service Commission, except the provisions of section 9 of the Act of August 2, 1939, as amended (5 U.S.C. 118i), prohibiting partisan political activity: Provided, That the Commission is authorized, after consulting the head of the appropriate department or agency, to designate suitable persons in the official service of the United States, with their consent, to serve in these positions. Examiners and hearing officers shall have the power to administer oaths.

SEC. 7. (a) The examiners for each political subdivision shall, at such places as the Civil Service Commission shall by regulation designate, examine applicants concerning their qualifications for voting. An application to an examiner shall be in such form as the Commission may require and shall contain allegations that the applicant is not otherwise registered to vote.

(b) Any person whom the examiner finds, in accordance with instructions received under section 9(b), to have the qualifications prescribed by State law not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States shall promptly be placed on a list of eligible voters. A challenge to such listing may be made in accordance with section 9(a) and shall not be the basis for a prosecution under section 12 of this Act. The examiner shall certify and transmit such list, and any supplements as appropriate, at least once a month, to the offices of the appropriate election officials, with copies to the Attorney General and the attorney general of the State, and any such lists and supplements thereto transmitted during the month shall be available for public inspection on the last business day of the month and, in any event, not later than the forty-fifth day prior to any election. The appropriate State or local election official shall place such names on the official voting list. Any person whose name appears on the examiner's list shall be entitled and allowed to vote in the election district of his residence unless and until the appropriate election officials shall have been notified that such person has been removed from such list in accordance with subsection (d): Provided, That no person shall be entitled to vote in any election by virtue of this Act unless his name shall have been certified and transmitted on such a list to the offices of the appropriate election officials at least forty-five days prior to such election.

(c) The examiner shall issue to each person whose name appears on such a list a certificate evidencing his eligibility to vote.

(d) A person whose name appears on such a list shall be removed therefrom by an examiner if (1) such person has been successfully challenged in accordance with the procedure prescribed in section 9, or (2) he has been determined by an examiner to have lost his eligibility to vote under State law not inconsistent with the Constitution and the laws of the United States.

Sec. 8. Whenever an examiner is serving under this Act in any political subdivision, the Civil Service Commission may assign, at the request of the Attorney General, one or more persons, who may be officers of the United States, (1) to enter and attend at any place for holding an election in such subdivision for the purpose of observing whether persons who are entitled to vote are being permitted to vote, and (2) to enter and attend at any place for tabulating the votes cast at any election held in such subdivision for the purpose of observing whether votes cast by persons entitled to vote are being properly tabulated. Such persons so assigned shall report to an examiner appointed for such political subdivision, to the Attorney General, and if the appointment of examiners has been authorized pursuant to section 3(a), to the court.

SEC. 9.

(a) Any challenge to a listing on an eligibility list prepared by an examiner shall be heard and determined by a hearing officer appointed by and responsible to the Civil Service Commission and under such rules as the Commission shall by regulation prescribe. Such challenge shall be entertained only if filed at such office within the State as the Civil Service Commission shall by regulation designate, and within ten days after the listing of the challenged person is made available for public inspection, and if supported by (1) the affidavits of at least two persons having personal knowledge of the facts constituting grounds for the challenge, and (2) a certification that a copy of the challenge and affidavits have been served by mail or in person upon the person challenged at his place of residence set out in the application. Such challenge shall be determined within fifteen days after it has been filed. A petition for review of the decision of the hearing officer may be filed in the United States court of appeals for the circuit in which the person challenged resides within fifteen days after service of such decision by mail on the person petitioning for review but no decision of a hearing officer shall be reversed unless clearly erroneous. Any person listed shall be entitled and allowed to vote pending final determination by the hearing officer and by the court.

(b) The times, places, procedures, and form for application and listing pursuant to this Act and removals from the eligibility lists shall be prescribed by regulations promulgated by the Civil Service Commission and the Commission shall, after consultation with the Attorney General, instruct examiners concerning applicable State law not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States with respect to (1) the qualifications required for listing, and (2) loss of eligibility to vote.

(c) Upon the request of the applicant or the challenger or on its own motion the Civil Service Commission shall have the power to require by subpoena the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of documentary evidence relating to any matter pending before it under the authority of this section. In case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpoena, any district court of the United States or the United States court of any territory or possession, or the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia, within the jurisdiction of which said person guilty of contumacy or refusal to obey is found or resides or is domiciled or transacts business, or has appointed an agent for receipt of service of process, upon application by the Attorney General of the United States shall have jurisdiction to issue to such person an order requiring such person to appear before the Commission or a hearing officer, there to produce pertinent, relevant, and nonprivileged documentary evidence if so ordered, or there to give testimony touching the matter under investigation, and any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by said court as a contempt thereof.

SEC. 10. (a) The Congress finds that the requirement of the payment of a poll tax as a precondition to voting (i) precludes persons of limited means from voting or imposes unreasonable financial hardship upon such persons as a precondition to their exercise of the franchise, (ii) does not bear a reasonable relationship to any legitimate State interest in the conduct of elections, and (iii) in some areas has the purpose or effect of denying persons the right to vote because of race or color. Upon the basis of these findings, Congress declares that the constitutional right of citizens to vote is denied or abridged in some areas by the requirement of the payment of a poll tax as a precondition to voting.

(b) In the exercise of the powers of Congress under section 5 of the fourteenth amendment and section 2 of the fifteenth amendment, the Attorney General is authorized and directed to institute forthwith in the name of the United States such actions, including actions against States or political subdivisions, for declaratory judgment or injunctive relief against the enforcement of any requirement of the payment of a poll tax as a precondition to voting, or substitute therefor enacted after November 1, 1964, as will be necessary to implement the declaration of subsection (a) and the purposes of this section.

(c) The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction of such actions which shall be heard and determined by a court of three judges in accordance with the provisions of section 2284 of title 28 of the United States Code and any appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court. It shall be the duty of the judges designated to hear the case to assign the case for hearing at the earliest practicable date, to participate in the hearing and determination thereof, and to cause the case to be in every way expedited.

(d) During the pendency of such actions, and thereafter if the courts, notwithstanding this action by the Congress, should declare the requirement of the payment of a poll tax to be constitutional, no citizen of the United States who is a resident of a State or political subdivision with respect to which determinations have been made under subsection 4(b) and a declaratory judgment has not been entered under subsection 4(a), during the first year he becomes otherwise entitled to vote by reason of registration by State or local officials or listing by an examiner, shall be denied the right to vote for failure to pay a poll tax if he tenders payment of such tax for the current year to an examiner or to the appropriate State or local official at least forty-five days prior to election, whether or not such tender would be timely or adequate under State law. An examiner shall have authority to accept such payment from any person authorized by this Act to make an application for listing, and shall issue a receipt for such payment. The examiner shall transmit promptly any such poll tax payment to the office of the State or local official authorized to receive such payment under State law, together with the name and address of the applicant.

SEC. 11. (a) No person acting under color of law shall fail or refuse to permit any person to vote who is entitled to vote under any provision of this Act or is otherwise qualified to vote, or willfully fail or refuse to tabulate, count, and report such person's vote.

(b) No person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for voting or attempting to vote, or intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for urging or aiding any person to vote or attempt to vote, or intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for exercising any powers or duties under section 3(a), 6, 8, 9, 10, or 12(e).

(c) Whoever knowingly or willfully gives false information as to his name, address, or period of residence in the voting district for the purpose of establishing his eligibility to register or vote, or conspires with another individual for the purpose of encouraging his false registration to vote or illegal voting, or pays or offers to pay or accepts payment either for registration to vote or for voting shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both: Provided, however, That this provision shall be applicable only to general, special, or primary elections held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting or electing any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, presidential elector, Member of the United States Senate, Member of the United States House of Representatives, or Delegates or Commissioners from the territories or possessions, or Resident Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

(d) Whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of an examiner or hearing officer knowingly and willfully falsifies or conceals a material fact, or makes any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements or representations, or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

SEC. 12. (a) Whoever shall deprive or attempt to deprive any person of any right secured by section 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, or 10 or shall violate section 11(a) or (b), shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(b) Whoever, within a year following an election in a political subdivision in which an examiner has been appointed (1) destroys, defaces, mutilates, or otherwise alters the marking of a paper ballot which has been cast in such election, or (2) alters any official record of voting in such election tabulated from a voting machine or otherwise, shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both

(c) Whoever conspires to violate the provisions of subsection (a) or (b) of this section, or interferes with any right secured by section 2, 3 4, 5, 7, 10, or 11(a) or (b) shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(d) Whenever any person has engaged or there are reasonable grounds to believe that any person is about to engage in any act or practice prohibited by section 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, or subsection (b) of this section, the Attorney General may institute for the United States, or in the name of the United States, an action for preventive relief, including an application for a temporary or permanent injunction, restraining order, or other order, and including an order directed to the State and State or local election officials to require them (1) to permit persons listed under this Act to vote and (2) to count such votes.

(e) Whenever in any political subdivision in which there are examiners appointed pursuant to this Act any persons allege to such an examiner within forty-eight hours after the closing of the polls that notwithstanding (1) their listing under this Act or registration by an appropriate election official and (2) their eligibility to vote, they have not been permitted to vote in such election, the examiner shall forthwith notify the Attorney General if such allegations in his opinion appear to be well founded. Upon receipt of such notification, the Attorney General may forthwith file with the district court an application for an order providing for the marking, casting, and counting of the ballots of such persons and requiring the inclusion of their votes in the total vote before the results of such election shall be deemed final and any force or effect given thereto. The district court shall hear and determine such matters immediately after the filing of such application. The remedy provided in this subsection shall not preclude any remedy available under State or Federal law.

(f) The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction of proceedings instituted pursuant to this section and shall exercise the same without regard to whether a person asserting rights under the provisions of this Act shall have exhausted any administrative or other remedies that may be provided by law

SEC. 13. Listing procedures shall be terminated in any political subdivision of any State (a) with respect to examiners appointed pursuant to clause (b) of section 6 whenever the Attorney General notifies the Civil Service Commission, or whenever the District Court for the District of Columbia determines in an action for declaratory judgment brought by any political subdivision with respect to which the Director of the Census has determined that more than 50 percentum of the nonwhite persons of voting age residing therein are registered to vote, (1) that all persons listed by an examiner for such subdivision have been placed on the appropriate voting registration roll, and (2) that there is no longer reasonable cause to believe that persons will be deprived of or denied the right to vote on account of race or color in such subdivision, and (b), with respect to examiners appointed pursuant to section 3(a), upon order of the authorizing court. A political subdivision may petition the Attorney General for the termination of listing procedures under clause (a) of this section, and may petition the Attorney General to request the Director of the Census to take such survey or census as may be appropriate for the making of the determination provided for in this section. The District Court for the District of Columbia shall have jurisdiction to require such survey or census to be made by the Director of the Census and it shall require him to do so if it deems the Attorney General's refusal to request such survey or census to be arbitrary or unreasonable.


SEC. 14. (a) All cases of criminal contempt arising under the provisions of this Act shall be governed by section 151 of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (42 U.S.C.1995).

(b) No court other than the District Court for the District of Columbia or a court of appeals in any proceeding under section 9 shall have jurisdiction to issue any declaratory judgment pursuant to section 4 or section 5 or any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction against the execution or enforcement of any provision of this Act or any action of any Federal officer or employee pursuant hereto.

(c) (1) The terms "vote" or "voting" shall include all action necessary to make a vote effective in any primary, special, or general election, including, but not limited to, registration, listing pursuant to this Act, or other action required by law prerequisite to voting, casting a ballot, and having such ballot counted properly and included in the appropriate totals of votes cast with respect to candidates for public or party office and propositions for which votes are received in an election. (2) The term "political subdivision" shall mean any county or parish, except that, where registration for voting is not conducted under the supervision of a county or parish, the term shall include any other subdivision of a State which conducts registration for voting.

(d) In any action for a declaratory judgment brought pursuant to section 4 or section 5 of this Act, subpoenas for witnesses who are required to attend the District Court for the District of Columbia may be served in any judicial district of the United States: Provided, That no writ of subpoena shall issue for witnesses without the District of Columbia at a greater distance than one hundred miles from the place of holding court without the permission of the District Court for the District of Columbia being first had upon proper application and cause shown.

SEC. 15. Section 2004 of the Revised Statutes (42 U.S.C.1971), as amended by section 131 of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 (71 Stat. 637), and amended by section 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1960 (74 Stat. 90), and as further amended by section 101 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (78 Stat. 241), is further amended as follows:

(a) Delete the word "Federal" wherever it appears in subsections (a) and (c);

(b) Repeal subsection (f) and designate the present subsections (g) and (h) as (f) and (g), respectively.

SEC. 16. The Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense, jointly, shall make a full and complete study to determine whether, under the laws or practices of any State or States, there are preconditions to voting, which might tend to result in discrimination against citizens serving in the Armed Forces of the United States seeking to vote. Such officials shall, jointly, make a report to the Congress not later than June 30, 1966, containing the results of such study, together with a list of any States in which such preconditions exist, and shall include in such report such recommendations for legislation as they deem advisable to prevent discrimination in voting against citizens serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.

SEC. 17. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to deny, impair, or otherwise adversely affect the right to vote of any person registered to vote under the law of any State or political subdivision.

SEC. 18. There are hereby authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act

SEC 19. If any provision of this Act or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid, the remainder of the Act and the application of the provision to other persons not similarly situated or to other circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

Approved August 6, 1965.



79 Stat. 437,
S. 1564








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