ARTICLE: THE 1982 EXTENSION OF SECTION 5 OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965: THE CONTINUED NEED FOR PRECLEARANCE Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1983 Tennessee Law Review Association, Inc.
Tennessee Law Review

ARTICLE: THE 1982 EXTENSION OF SECTION 5 OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965: THE CONTINUED NEED FOR PRECLEARANCE

FALL, 1983

51 Tenn. L. Rev. 1

Author

Laughlin MoDonald *

Excerpt

I. Introduction

On June 29, 1982, Congress, by an overwhelming vote in both houses, amended and extended the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965. 1 In so doing, it acknowledged the substantial gains in minority political participation since the Act's passage, but concluded that this progress was "fragile" and incomplete, and would be halted if the Act's crucial safeguards were abandoned. Indeed, Congress warned that without continuation of the Act, "many of the advances of the past decade could be wiped out overnight with new discriminatory schemes and devices." 2

The central features of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were the ban on literacy and other tests or devices for voting in jurisdictions with aggravated histories of discrimination, and the requirement under Section 5 that federal officials must preclear all new voting practices for bias before these jurisdictions could implement them. 3 Congress assumed, or at least hoped, that once it removed the formal barriers to registration and blocked the enactment of new, equally discriminatory procedures to take their place, then blacks could participate in politics on the basis of equality with whites. 4

As evidenced by the increase in black voter registration and black elected officials, the Voting Rights Act indeed has had a dramatic effect in Southern jurisdictions. Fewer than 100 blacks held office in the targeted Southern states before Congress adopted the Act. 5 By July 1980, however, there were 2,042 blacks in office. 6 Although the raw numbers sound impressive, blacks remain a disproportionately low ...
 
 
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