back to top

8 Times The Voting Rights Act Stopped Voting Laws From Changing

The provision of the historic civil rights law struck down Tuesday has been used to keep voting changes considered to have discriminatory effect from happening.

Posted on
Getty / Win McNamee

Supporters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hold signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court building Tuesday. The court ruled that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which is aimed at protecting minority voters, is unconstitutional.

1. In 1990, Dallas County, Ala., tried to purge voter rolls of people who hadn't returned a voter update form, but the courts struck it down.

The Department of Justice called the measure discriminatory, saying it would disqualify people from voting, "simply because they failed to pick up or return a voter update form, when there was no valid requirement that they do so."


2. In 1993, Millen, Ga., proposed delaying an election in a predominantly black area.

When the Department of Justice blocked the proposal, the city then tried to move a polling place for the predominantly black neighborhood to outside of the city limits.

3. In 1995, Mississippi sought to reenact a dual voter registration system.

The measure, "was initially enacted in 1892 to disenfranchise Black voters," and for that reason, was struck down by a federal court in 1987.

4. In 2001, the mayor of Kilmichael, Miss., and the city's all-white board canceled the town's election after "an unprecedented number" of African-Americans announced they were running for office.

The Department of Justice required the town to hold an election, and they ended up electing their first black mayor and three black aldermen.

5. In 2006, Texas attempted to redraw a congressional district.

The court struck it down saying it had "the mark of intentional discrimination that could give rise to an equal protection violation."

6. In 2011, there were 12 redistricting plans and two new photo identification requirements brought up in South Carolina that were ultimately struck down.

There were also 21 new lawsuits seeking judicial review of redistricting plans and other complex voting changes.

7. In 2012, a Texas redistricting plan was struck down in federal court because it was designed with a "discriminatory purpose" to limit Latino voters.

Nina Perales, vice president of litigation at the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, said the redistricting was meant to dilute the power of minority voters.

8. In 2012, Florida tried to reduce the minimum number of early voting hours.

The courts struck it down saying it could disproportionately impact black voters in certain parts of the state.

Contact Hunter Schwarz at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.