Voting Rights Act at 50: Difficult questions remain on who gets to vote

Categories: Latest News

August 29, 2015

In this Nov. 6, 2012 file photo, a woman casts her ballot at a voting booth in a gymnasium at the Palisades High School polling site in Pacific Palisades, Calif. After 50 years, voting rights remain difficult question in many communities. (CNS photo/Michael Nelson, EPA) See WASHINGTON-LETTER-VOTING Aug. 27, 2015.

In this Nov. 6, 2012 file photo, a woman casts her ballot at a voting booth in a gymnasium at the Palisades High School polling site in Pacific Palisades, Calif. After 50 years, voting rights remain difficult question in many communities. (CNS photo/Michael Nelson, EPA)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Even after a half-century of election law that was intended to settle the question of who is eligible to vote in the United States, contentious issues remain on who gets that right.

The battles, just like those before the bill was signed into law Aug. 6, 1965, are held long before someone gets to the voting booth.

Before the law, especially in the Jim Crow South, African-Americans were routinely denied the right to vote. Some city or county clerk offices established a “poll tax,” set so high that low-income blacks could not afford to pay it. Sometimes blacks were made to take tests to determine their eligibility to vote — tests that were designed to fail them. Sometimes clerks just outright refused to register black voters, and there was no higher legal authority to tell them otherwise.

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