Pre-VRA Suppression

Southern states created barriers to voter registration, such as poll taxes and literacy tests, [link to barriers to voting] that made it almost impossible for Black citizens to register or vote. If African Americans did succeed in voting, they risked losing their jobs, attacks on their homes, violence, and even death.

Minority Voting Restrictions

By the early 1900s, the number of southern Black registered voters shrank dramatically. Latinx voters faced similar barriers to voting in the Southwest, as did American Indian and Asian American voters in the West.

Before the Voting Rights Act, the laws were not strong enough to eliminate voting-related racial discrimination, either in the southern states or in any other area of the country that suppressed voting. Furthermore, there were no strong motivations within Congress to change these laws. It was not until the Civil Rights Movement took hold in the early 1960’s that change of any kind was remotely possible.