- The Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King
Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006
- The Voting Rights Act of 1965
- The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986
- The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (Motor Voter)
- The Help America Vote Act of 2002
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is considered to be the most effective civil rights statute
enacted by Congress. Pursuant to the Act, the Voting Section undertakes investigations and
litigation throughout the United States and its territories, conducts administrative review of
changes in voting practices and procedures in certain jurisdictions, and monitors elections
in various parts of the country.
Section 2 of the Act, is
a nationwide prohibition against voting practices and procedures, including redistricting plans and
at-large election systems, poll worker hiring, and voter registration procedures, that
discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group.
It prohibits not only election-related practices and procedures that are intended to
be racially discriminatory, but also those that are shown to have a racially discriminatory impact.
The Attorney General, as well as affected private citizens, may bring lawsuits
under Section 2 to obtain court-ordered remedies for violations of Section 2.
Section 4 sets forth the criteria for determining
whether a jurisdiction is covered under the special provisions of the Act, including the requirement
for review of changes affecting voting under Section 5, whether it may be designated by the
Attorney General for federal observers, and the procedures for terminating such
coverage. This section also contains some of the language minority provisions.
Section 5 freezes changes
in election practices or procedures in certain states until
the new procedures have been determined, either after administrative review by the United
States Attorney General, or after a lawsuit before the United States District Court for the
District of Columbia, to have neither discriminatory purpose or effect. If the
proposed change has not been shown to be free of the purpose
and the effect the Attorney General may block implementation of the change by interposing
an objection. The Attorney General has published detailed
procedures which explain how to make Section 5 submissions.
Notices of Section 5 submissions are regularly posted to the Internet.
Chart of Section 5 changes by type.
Section 3 and
Section 8 give the federal
courts and the Attorney General, respectively, authority to certify counties
for the assignment of federal observers. Federal observers are assigned
to polling places so they can monitor election-day practices in response to concerns about
discrimination in the voting process and to provide information about compliance with bilingual
election procedures. Department staff may also be sent to monitor elections.
Sections 203 and
4(f)(4) are the language minority provisions
of the Act. These provisions require certain covered jurisdictions to provide bilingual written materials and other assistance. The Attorney General has published detailed
guidelines that explain how to comply with
Section 208 of the Act, is the provision for voters requiring assistance to vote by
reason of blindness, disability, or inability to read or write. Any such voter may be given
assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer or agent
of the employer or officer or agent of the voter's union.
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) was
enacted by Congress in 1986. The UOCAVA requires that the states and territories allow
certain groups of citizens to register and vote absentee in elections for federal offices. In
addition, most states and territories have their own laws allowing citizens covered by the
UOCAVA to register and vote absentee in state and local elections as well.
The National Voter Registration Act,
also known as the NVRA or the Motor Voter Act, is another significant
piece of voting rights legislation. The NVRA facilitates voter registration for federal elections
by allowing voters to register by mail, when they obtain driver's licenses, or when they obtain
services from various government agencies, and it permits voter purges only under very controlled
conditions. It also helps ensure that eligible voters are not removed from the voting rolls and
that people who move in the same registrar's district retain their eligibility to vote even if
they have not re-registered at their new location.
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA)
is the most recent piece of federal voting rights legislation. It is designed to improve the
administration of elections in the United States by establishing minimum standards for states
to follow in several key areas of election administration. It also created a new federal
agency to serve as a clearinghouse for election administration information and provided funds
to states to improve election administration, including replacing outdated voting systems.
We encourage anyone with a complaint about voting discrimination to let us know what
the problem is, where it is, and how it affects minority voters.
There are no special forms to use or procedures to follow--just call us toll-free at (800)
253-3931, or write to us.
FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions.