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Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended in 1982 and renewed on July 20, 2006, reads:
"No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title, as provided in subsection (b) of this section
A violation of subsection (a) of this section is established if, based on the totality of circumstances, it is shown that the political processes leading to nomination or election in the State or political subdivision are not equally open to participation by members of a class of citizens protected by subsection (a) of this section in that its member have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice. The extent to which members of a protected class have been elected to office in the State or political subdivision is one circumstance which may be considered. Provided, that nothing in this section establishes a right to have members of a protected class elected in numbers equal to their participation in the population."
The U.S. Department of Justice wrote in its website article "Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act," accessed on Oct. 30, 2006:
"Section 2 of 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 identified in Section 4(f)(2) of the Act. Most of the cases arising under Section 2 since its enactment involved challenges to at-large election schemes, but the section's prohibition against discrimination in voting applies nationwide to any voting standard, practice, or procedure that results in the denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. Section 2 is permanent and has no expiration date as do certain other provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
In 1980, the Supreme Court held that the section, as originally enacted by Congress in 1964, was a restatement of the protections afforded by the 15th amendment. [Mobile v. Bolden, 446 U.S. 55 (1980).] Under that standard, a plaintiff had to prove that the standard, practice, or procedure was enacted or maintained, at least in part, by an invidious [discriminatory] purpose.
In 1982, Congress extended certain provisions of the Act such as Section 5 that were set to expire, and added protections for voters who required assistance in voting. At the same time, it examined the history of litigation under Section 2 since 1965 and concluded that Section 2 should be amended to provide that a plaintiff could establish a violation of the section if the evidence established that, in the context of the 'totality of the circumstance of the local electoral process,' the standard, practice, or procedure being challenged had the result of denying a racial or language minority an equal opportunity to participate in the political process."