Learn more about the Voting Rights Act of 1965

July 28, 2020

The voting rights bill was passed in the U.S. Senate by a 77-19 vote on May 26, 1965. After debating the bill for more than a month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 333-85 on July 9.

 

Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law on August 6, 1965, with Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders present at the ceremony.

 

The act banned the use of literacy tests, provided for federal oversight of voter registration in areas where less than 50 percent of the non-white population had not registered to vote, and authorized the U.S. attorney general to investigate the use of poll taxes in state and local elections.

 

In 1964, the 24th Amendment made poll taxes illegal in federal elections; poll taxes in state elections were banned in 1966 by the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

Did you know?

In 1965, at the time of the passage of the Voting Rights Act, there were six African-American members of the U.S. House of Representatives and no Blacks in the U.S. Senate. By 1971, there were 13 members of the House and one Black member of the Senate.


 

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