One of the most important aspect of incorporating the voices of all citizens into the legislature, is guaranteeing that citizens that belong to racial and linguistic minority groups can freely and equally participate in elections.
In the U.S., no piece of legislation has been more important in ensuring voting rights to previously disenfranchised groups than the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 guarantees the right to vote to racial, ethnic and language minority citizens. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is particularly important as it prohibits minority vote dilution through tactics, legislation, situations, etc. that weaken the voting strength of minorities. It also prevents municipalities from enacting practices designed to give minorities an unfair chance to elect candidates of their choice and is enforceable nationwide. Through use of Section 2, many communities have been able to gain fair representation by implementing proportional voting systems in settlements of Voting Rights Act litigation.
In seeking fair election reform, FairVote's work is often guided by the Voting Rights Act. In several Amicus briefs and reports, we have examined how proportional type voting and other reforms are not only compatible with, but help better achieve the objectives of the VRA. A brief list of our work that has involved the VRA is below:
FairVote in July 2013 submitted testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in response to the Supreme Court's June 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder. In that case, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act as unconstitutional, holding that its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to preclearance under Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. FairVote's testimony focuses on the importance of establishing voting rules that are intrinsically fair rather than contextually fair; in particular, we propose statutory changes to make it easier for jurisdictions to adopt fair representation voting methods.
Section 5 of the VRA: This report traces the history of the Voting Rights Act, from its origins in 1965 through its opposition and its continued renewal. Specifically, the report details how Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires those states covered under Section 5 to preclear all proposed voting changes, including redistricting efforts, with the Department of Justice before their enactment. The advent of the Voting Rights Act, specifically Section 5, has been instrumental in preventing states from making changes which could potentially discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities. Throughout the history of Section 5 cases before the Supreme Court, the Court has yet to rule Section 5 is invalid.