Voting Rights Act:

Enforcement Needs Strengthening

GGD-78-19: Published: Feb 6, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 6, 1978.

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The 1965 Voting Rights Act was designed to alleviate racial and language discrimination in voting, thereby securing the franchise for U.S. citizens of all races. The act's general provisions apply throughout the United States; special provisions apply in States and localities that meet certain conditions. The 1975 amendments added minority language provisions which apply in some States and localities.

The Department of Justice's program for enforcing the act has contributed toward greater political participation by citizens of all races. However, the act's purposes have not been fully realized because: (1) the Department has not adequately monitored jurisdictions covered by special provisions to determine whether these jurisdictions submit their proposed election law changes for review; (2) sufficient data are lacking to adequately assess the effectiveness of the act's examiner and observer programs; (3) litigative efforts have been limited; (4) language provisions do not cover all language minorities needing assistance; (5) implementation of minority language provisions is hampered by vague guidelines and lack of Department assistance; and (6) the Bureau of the Census has a congressional mandate to perform biennial minority voter participation surveys which are costly and of little value.

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