TITLE 42 - THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE
CHAPTER 20 - ELECTIVE FRANCHISE
SUBCHAPTER I-A - ENFORCEMENT OF VOTING RIGHTS
Sec. 1973. Denial or abridgement of right to vote on account of
race or color through voting qualifications or prerequisites;
establishment of violation
(a) No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or
standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any
State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a
denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United
States to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of
the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title, as
provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) A violation of subsection (a) of this section is established
if, based on the totality of circumstances, it is shown that the
political processes leading to nomination or election in the State
or political subdivision are not equally open to participation by
members of a class of citizens protected by subsection (a) of this
section in that its members have less opportunity than other
members of the electorate to participate in the political process
and to elect representatives of their choice. The extent to which
members of a protected class have been elected to office in the
State or political subdivision is one circumstance which may be
considered: Provided, That nothing in this section establishes a
right to have members of a protected class elected in numbers equal
to their proportion in the population.
(Pub. L. 89-110, title I, Sec. 2, Aug. 6, 1965, 79 Stat. 437;
renumbered title I, Pub. L. 91-285, Sec. 2, June 22, 1970, 84 Stat.
314; amended Pub. L. 94-73, title II, Sec. 206, Aug. 6, 1975, 89
Stat. 402; Pub. L. 97-205, Sec. 3, June 29, 1982, 96 Stat. 134.)
1982 - Pub. L. 97-205 redesignated existing provisions as subsec.
(a), struck out the comma after "voting", substituted "in a manner
which results in a denial or abridgement of" for "to deny or
abridge", inserted ", as provided in subsection (b) of this
section" after "in contravention of the guarantees set forth in
section 1973b(f)(2) of this title", and added subsec. (b).
1975 - Pub. L. 94-73 substituted "race or color, or in
contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of
this title" for "race or color".
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1982 AMENDMENT
Section 6 of Pub. L. 97-205 provided that: "Except as otherwise
provided in this Act, the amendments made by this Act [see Short
Title of 1982 Amendment note below] shall take effect on the date
of the enactment of this Act [June 29, 1982]."
This subchapter and subchapters I-B and I-C of this chapter known
as the "Voting Rights Act of 1965", see Short Title note set out
under section 1971 of this title.
CONGRESSIONAL PURPOSE AND FINDINGS
Pub. L. 109-246, Sec. 2, July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 577, provided
"(a) Purpose. - The purpose of this Act [see Short Title of 2006
Amendment note set out under section 1971 of this title] is to
ensure that the right of all citizens to vote, including the right
to register to vote and cast meaningful votes, is preserved and
protected as guaranteed by the Constitution.
"(b) Findings. - The Congress finds the following:
"(1) Significant progress has been made in eliminating first
generation barriers experienced by minority voters, including
increased numbers of registered minority voters, minority voter
turnout, and minority representation in Congress, State
legislatures, and local elected offices. This progress is the
direct result of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [this subchapter
and subchapters I-B and I-C of this chapter].
"(2) However, vestiges of discrimination in voting continue to
exist as demonstrated by second generation barriers constructed
to prevent minority voters from fully participating in the
"(3) The continued evidence of racially polarized voting in
each of the jurisdictions covered by the expiring provisions of
the Voting Rights Act of 1965 demonstrates that racial and
language minorities remain politically vulnerable, warranting the
continued protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
"(4) Evidence of continued discrimination includes -
"(A) the hundreds of objections interposed, requests for more
information submitted followed by voting changes withdrawn from
consideration by jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act
of 1965, and section 5 [42 U.S.C. 1973c] enforcement actions
undertaken by the Department of Justice in covered
jurisdictions since 1982 that prevented election practices,
such as annexation, at-large voting, and the use of multi-
member districts, from being enacted to dilute minority voting
"(B) the number of requests for declaratory judgments denied
by the United States District Court for the District of
"(C) the continued filing of section 2 [42 U.S.C. 1973] cases
that originated in covered jurisdictions; and
"(D) the litigation pursued by the Department of Justice
since 1982 to enforce sections 4(e), 4(f)(4), and 203 of such
Act [42 U.S.C. 1973b(e), (f)(4), 1973aa-1a] to ensure that all
language minority citizens have full access to the political
"(5) The evidence clearly shows the continued need for Federal
oversight in jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act of
1965 since 1982, as demonstrated in the counties certified by the
Attorney General for Federal examiner and observer coverage and
the tens of thousands of Federal observers that have been
dispatched to observe elections in covered jurisdictions.
"(6) The effectiveness of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has
been significantly weakened by the United States Supreme Court
decisions in Reno v. Bossier Parish II and Georgia v. Ashcroft,
which have misconstrued Congress' original intent in enacting the
Voting Rights Act of 1965 and narrowed the protections afforded
by section 5 of such Act [42 U.S.C. 1973c].
"(7) Despite the progress made by minorities under the Voting
Rights Act of 1965, the evidence before Congress reveals that 40
years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the
vestiges of discrimination following nearly 100 years of
disregard for the dictates of the 15th amendment and to ensure
that the right of all citizens to vote is protected as guaranteed
by the Constitution.
"(8) Present day discrimination experienced by racial and
language minority voters is contained in evidence, including the
objections interposed by the Department of Justice in covered
jurisdictions; the section 2 litigation filed to prevent dilutive
techniques from adversely affecting minority voters; the
enforcement actions filed to protect language minorities; and the
tens of thousands of Federal observers dispatched to monitor
polls in jurisdictions covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
"(9) The record compiled by Congress demonstrates that, without
the continuation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 protections,
racial and language minority citizens will be deprived of the
opportunity to exercise their right to vote, or will have their
votes diluted, undermining the significant gains made by
minorities in the last 40 years."
Section 208 of Pub. L. 94-73 provided that: "If any amendments
made by this Act [enacting sections 1973aa-1a and 1973aa-5 of this
title, amending this section and sections 1973a to 1973d, 1973h,
1973i, 1973k, 1973l, 1973aa, 1973aa-2, 1973aa-3, 1973bb, 1973bb-1
of this title, and repealing sections 1973bb-2 to 1973bb-4 of this
title] or the application of any provision thereof to any person or
circumstance is judicially determined to be invalid, the remainder
of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [this subchapter and subchapters I-
B and I-C of this chapter], or the application of such provision
to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected by such
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