1970 and 1975 Voting Rights Act Amendments

1970 Amendments

In 1970, Congress voted to extend renewable portions of the Voting Rights Act for five more years. They also added some new provisions to the act.

The 1970 amendments included a nationwide ban on literacy tests English language tests given to prospective voters in the U.S. until 1970 with the intent to limit the voting rights of marginalized groups and reduced residency requirements [link to tools of suppression] that could be applied in presidential elections.

The 1970 reauthorization also reduced the voting age [link to AGE subpage] in national elections from 21 to 18 years of age. Though this provision was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court for non-federal elections, the voting age was permanently lowered by passage of the 26th Amendment [link to Fed Law and to AGE subpage] in 1971.

1975 Amendments

The 1975 amendments addressed voting barriers faced by Latinxs [int link], Asian American [int link] and American Indian [int link] citizens.

For example, more than half a million Puerto Ricans of voting age residing in New York City who had been educated in American schools, could not meet the English-literacy requirement for voting in New York because their instruction had been Spanish language only.

The 1975 amendments added protections from voting discrimination for language minority citizens [link to tools of suppression and fed law]. The law now requires jurisdictions with significant numbers of voters with limited or no English proficiency to provide voting materials and assistance in relevant languages in addition to English.

In addition, Section 2 (nationwide) protections were amended to include language minority status as well as race and color.