Presentation on theme: "AMERICAN GOVERNMENT. HOW IMPORTANT IS THE RIGHT TO VOTE? Southerners of the 1960s suffered arrest, beatings, shocks with electric cattle prods, even death."— Presentation transcript:
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE RIGHT TO VOTE? Southerners of the 1960s suffered arrest, beatings, shocks with electric cattle prods, even death in the name of the right to vote. Their efforts inspired a nation and led to large-scale federal efforts to secure suffrage for African-Americans and other minority groups
THE XVTH AMENDMENT XVth Amendment ratified in 1870 The right to vote cannot be denied to any citizen of the USA because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. This amendment was not self-executing Congress had to act to enforce the amendment but for almost 90 years the federal government paid little attention to the voting rights of African Americans
1870-1960s—African-Americans systematically were kept from the polls White supremacists’ main weapon was violence They also used subtle threats and social pressure People fired from jobs for registering to vote or denied the family credit at the local store Formal “legal” devices were used—literacy tests White officials regularly manipulated these tests to disenfranchise the African-Americans
Registration laws also served to prohibit African- American voting GERRYMANDERING—the practice of drawing electoral district lines (the boundaries of the geographic area from which a candidate is elected to a public office) in order to limit the voting strength of a particular group or party In response to the civil rights campaign of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Congress decided to act to remove prohibition of African-American voting.
EARLY CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION Civil Rights Act of 1957 Set up the US Civil Rights Commission The commission inquired into claims of voter discrimination The Act also gave the attorney general the power to seek federal court orders to prevent interference with a person’s right to vote in any federal election Civil Rights Act of 1960 Provided for the appointment of federal voting referees—help qualified people register and vote.
THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 Broader and more effective than previous laws Outlawed discrimination in several areas, especially job-related matters Forbids the use of any voter registration or literacy requirement in an unfair or discriminatory manner Relied on judicial action to overcome racial barriers INJUNCTION—a court order that either compels (forces) or restrains (limits) the performance of some act by a private individual or public official
Violating an injunction amounts to contempt of court, punishable by a fine and/or prison time Selma, AL—Dr. King mounts a voter registration drive in early 1965 He wanted to focus national attention on the issue of African-American voting rights Registration was met by insults and violence by white civilians, city and county police, and state troopers Two civil rights workers were murdered and many others beaten Much of the drama was shown on national TV President Johnson urged Congress to pass stronger legislation. Congress responded quickly.
THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965 Made the XVth Amendment, at long last, a truly effective part of the Constitution. This act applied to ALL elections held anywhere in this country—state and local, as well as federal. The law lasted for 5 years but was extended in 1970, 1975, 1982, and most recently 2006. The most recent law is in effect for 25 years and will expire or need to be renewed by 2031. Attorney General challenged the constitutionality of remaining state poll-tax laws. The law also suspended the use of literacy tests in states
PRECLEARANCE The process of reviewing election-related laws before they were allowed to go into effect. Many court cases have occurred since preclearance These cases show that the laws most likely to run afoul of preclearance are those that make these changes: 1) the location of polling places; 2) the boundaries of election districts; 3) deadlines in the election process; 4) from ward or district elections to at-large elections; 5) the qualifications candidates must meet in order to run for office
AMENDMENTS TO THE ACT 1970 amendment extended the law for 5 years No law could use literacy as a the basis for voting requirements 1975—law extended again for 7 years until 1982 1982—law extended for 25 year to 2007 THE END