Protect the Vote: Is Federal Oversight Still Needed?
Despite the passage of time in the strides forward, Dr. King’s word on the importance of the right to vote still ring true on the modern day. This Note explores the historical voting rights starting with the Fifteenth Amendment. After the Fifteenth Amendment passed, case law permitted individual states to determine what citizens could attain voting rights, as long as the decision was not based on racial discrimination. Almost a century later, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Smith v. Allwright that a private organization acted as a state actor when it controlled the state’s election process and violated a person’s civil rights by restraining the right to vote in primary elections solely upon that person’s race. In 1965, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (“VRA”) to establish federal oversight of state election processes where a given state met the requirements under the formula created. The VRA survived many challenges and congressional extensions over the years following its enactment. Finally, the Court in Shelby County v. Holder found the VRA formula was outdated and no longer constitutional. This Note’s discussion looks at what States have done regarding voting rights within their jurisdictions after the Court’s decision in Shelby County.
Creighton University School of Law