Voting Rights Act

The House has voted to renew the 1965 Voting Rights Act for 25 years.

The vote was 390-to-33.   The bill now goes to the Senate.

Earlier Thursday House members rejected efforts by Southern Republicans to relax restrictions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The amendments' authors say simply renewing the act would wrongly punish states with racist histories that lawmakers said have been overcome.

Nonetheless, the House rejected a change that would have extended the act for 10 years, rather than a quarter-century. The amendment was sponsored by Representative Louie Gohmert of Tyler.

The chamber also rejected an amendment that would have struck requirements to print ballots in several languages in districts with large numbers of non-English speakers.

Supporters of renewing the law without change said the pain of racial struggle and racist voting practices still stung.


Congress found the existing federal anti-discrimination laws did not overcome the resistance by state officials to enforcement of the 15th Amendment. Legislative hearings showed government efforts to eliminate discriminatory election practices by litigation had been unsuccessful in opening up the registration process. The Voting Rights Act was enacted as a result. It was signed into law by President Johnson on August 6, 1965.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in one of the language minority groups. Another provision of the Act includes special enforcement provisions targeted at those areas of the country where Congress believed the potential for discrimination to be the greatest.

For more information the Voting Rights Act of 1965 go to