Immediate Success of the VRA

African-American Registration and Representation

The Voting Rights Act was very effective. By April 1966, federal examiners had registered over 235,000 new voters in Alabama alone, almost 49% of all those eligible to vote. By 1968, nearly 60 percent of eligible African Americans were registered to vote in Mississippi, and other southern states showed similar improvement.

Between 1965 and 1970, almost as many African American voters had registered in six southern states as in the 100 years before 1965. Between 1965 and 1990, the number of Black state legislators and members of Congress rose from two to 160. The VRA re-enfranchised Black Southerners, helping elect African Americans at the local, state and national levels.

Extending the VRA to other Minority Communities

For Latinxs and other non-English speakers, the 1975 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, under President Gerald Ford was the moment of real triumph. The extension ended discrimination against so-called "language minorities" who continued to suffer language barriers to voting for at least a decade after the Voting Rights Act became law, such as:

  • Mexican Americans of Texas, Arizona and California
  • Puerto Ricans
  • American Indians
  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
  • Alaskans and Hawaiians

The 1975 extension required jurisdictions to provide translation materials in order to to facilitate voter registration and voting.

This law in 1975 was an absolutely critical contributor to all the success and growth we’ve seen in Latino political empowerment"
Luis Fraga, Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame