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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Louisiana

Thursday, August 6, 2015

U.S. Attorney recognizes Voting Rights Act 50th anniversary

SHREVEPORT/MONROE/ALEXANDRIA/LAKE CHARLES/LAFAYETTE, La.:  Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States.

voting_rights_act.pdf (101.4 KB)The U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, held an open media call to mark the momentous occasion.

United States Attorney Stephanie Finley stated, “The Voting Rights Act along with the Civil Rights Act was pivotal legislation for all Americans. The goal - to ensure that every person, regardless of race, nationality or status in life, could exercise one of the most important rights of citizenship in this country, the right to vote.  It is hard to believe, and we often forget, that just 50 years ago there were Americans who desired to exercise their voice through the ballot, but were denied, solely based on race. They were met with many restrictions, often intimidated and limited in other ways, sometimes by force. Voting is the bedrock of our democracy. It ensures that this great nation continues to be a government ‘of the people, by the people and for the people.’ This office is committed to enforcing the provisions of the act to the fullest extent of the law in order to protect that precious right.”

Following the Civil War to the 1960s, the freedoms provided in the 15th Amendment of 1870, guaranteeing the freedom of former slaves and people of color were muted. Some states, including Louisiana, enacted laws to bar these groups from voting and participating in other forms of civic involvement. In addition to laws, poll taxes, education tests, threats, intimidation and violence were used to further push minority groups farther from the ballot box. Change came slowly and real legislation was seen in 1964 with the enactment of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to further expand upon the rights of the disenfranchised and specifically to bring fairness to the voting and the redistricting process. For more history of the Voting Rights Act visit See President Johnson’s March 15, 1965 speech to Congress concerning the voting rights online at

If members of the public have any information on potential violations, contact the Justice Department or the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The public may contact the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division at 1-800-253-3931 or for general information concerning the Section’s activities or to make a complaint concerning a voting matter. The U.S. Attorney’s offices are in frequent contact with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Criminal Division, and can direct calls to the appropriate office.

Office and Personnel Updates
Updated February 29, 2016