Aclu logo

History of Voting Rights Act of 1965

  • Civil Rights Act of 1957

    Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1957, giving the U.S. Attorney General the authority to bring lawsuits on behalf of African Americans denied the right to vote.
  • Period: to

    Voting Rights Act Timeline

  • Lassiter v. Northampton County

    In a major setback to voting rights, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Lassiter v. Northampton County Board of Elections that literacy tests for voting in North Carolina do not violate the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1960

    The Civil Rights Act of 1960 requires election officials to have all records relating to voter registration and permits the Department of Justice to inspect them. The Act also allows African Americans whose registration was previously rejected by local election officials to apply to a federal court or voting referee.
  • Baker v. Carr

    In Baker v. Carr , the U.S. Supreme Court rules that courts can direct legislatures to redraw district boundaries to ensure citizens' political rights.
  • Gray v. Sanders

    In Gray v. Sanders t he U.S. Supreme Court finds that Georgia's "county unit" system of voting is unconstitutional and articulates the essential concept of "one person, one vote."
  • March on Washington

    The "March on Washington" led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. receives worldwide attention
  • Poll Tax Abolishment

    Poll taxes are outlawed with the adoption of the 24th Amendment
  • Reynolds v. Sims

    In Reynolds v. Sims , a major voting rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the one person, one vote rule applies to legislative bodies
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

    Congress passes the Civil Rights Act of 1964, making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion, and gender in voting, public places, the workplace and schools.
  • Murderers Indicted

    A Jackson, Mississippi, federal grand jury hands down indictments for the June 1964 slaying of three civil rights workers-James E. Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner
  • Bloody Sunday

    More than 500 non-violent civil rights marchers are attacked by law enforcement officers while attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to dramatize the need for African American voting rights and to protest the fatal police shooting of Jimmy Lee Jackson, a civil rights activist.
  • Voting Righs Act

    President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act into law, permanently barring direct barriers to political participation by racial and ethnic minorities, prohibiting any election practice that denies the right to vote on account of race, and requiring jurisdictions with a history of discrimination in voting to get federal approval of changes in their election laws before they can take effect.
  • Registration Success

    By the end of 1965, 250,000 new black voters are registered, one-third of them by Federal examiners
  • South Carolina v. Katzenbach

    In South Carolina v. Katzenbach, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act.
  • Impact of the Voting Rights Act

    African American voter registration jumps from 6.7% in Mississippi before passage of the Voting Rights Act, to 59.8% in 1967.
  • African Americans in Congress

    Nine African Americans are elected to Congress, the largest number since 1875.
  • Renewal of temporary provisions in the Voting Rights Act

    Congress renews the temporary provisions of the Voting Rights Act for five years, and they are signed into law by President Richard Nixon
  • Congressional Black Caucus

    Following the election of 12 African Americans to Congress in 1970, Congressman Charles C. Diggs, Jr. of Michigan establishes the Congressional Black Caucus to secure a larger voice for African Americans in public affairs.
  • Jordan and Young

    Barbara Jordan of Houston and Andrew Young of Atlanta become the first African Americans elected to Congress from the South since Reconstruction.
  • Voting Rights Act reauthorized

    President Gerald Ford reauthorizes the special provisions of the Voting Rights Act, including new measures to permanently bar literacy tests nationwide and give assistance to language minority voters.
  • White v. Regester

    Minority voting rights are strengthened in White v. Regester , when the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Texas redistricting is unconstitutional because it dilutes minority voting strength in Bexar County.
  • Voting Rights Act extended

    Congress reathorizes the special provisions of the Voting Rights Act for 25 years
  • Black Elected Officials Increase

    As a result of the Voting Rights Act, the number of black elected officials in Georgia grows to 495 in 1990, from just three prior to the VRA.
  • 103rd Congress

    Out of 38 African Americans elected to the US House of Representatives who will serve in the 103rd Congress, only three are elected from majority-white districts.
  • Language Minority Provisions of Voting Rights Act

    The language minority provisions of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act are extended 15 years and strengthened by adjusting the population thresholds to allow for assistance to more voters with limited English proficiency. The bill is signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.
  • Moter Voter Bill

    The National Voter Registration Act, also known as the "Motor Voter" Bill, makes registration more uniform and accessible, especially for minority and low income voters.
  • Miller v. Johnson

    The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Miller v. Johnson that race cannot be the "predominant factor" when drawing district lines.
  • Reno v. Bossier Parish School

    The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Reno v. Bossier Parish School Board that the federal government can preclear redistricting plans created with a discriminatory purpose, as long as the purpose is not to make things worse
  • Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

    Help America Vote Act. Congress provided funds to states to improve election administration and replace outdated voting systems. HAVA also creates minimum standards for states to follow in areas of election administration and provides for voting by provisional ballots.
  • 2006 Extension

    Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act. Congress extended Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for an additional 25 years.