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The Voting Rights Act was signed into law on August 6, 1965, during an era of rampant disenfranchisement of minorities, to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1870, already prohibited the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of color, race, or previous condition of servitude, various states circumvented its enforcement through such mechanisms as literacy tests, poll taxes, and gerrymandering.

There are two key sections of the Voting Rights Act: Section 2, which mostly tracks the language of the Fifteenth Amendment, and Section 5, which applies only to specified jurisdictions. While Section 2 is a permanent provision of the act, Section 5 must be renewed; in addition, while Section 2 ...

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