2011/2012: Over 41 states introduced or passed restrictive voting laws that can disenfranchise an estimated 5 million minority, low-income, college age and senior voters. 2013: The SCOTUS Shelby v. Holder decision removes the Section 5 pre-clearance provision of the 1965 VRA. Over thirty states immediately begin to enact suppressive voter ID & registration requirements and severe polling place access reductions. Complex, race-based, redistricting (gerrymandering) tactics escalate. 2016/2017: Several regressive state legislative actions are overturned. 2018: Legal challenges continue.
2002: The Help America Vote Act passes in response to the disputed 2000 presidential election. Voting reforms require states to comply with several mandates, including improved voter access, clear voter ID requirements and voter registration processes, improved voter education, voting equipment upgrades, comprehensive poll training, etc.
2001: In their final report, the National Commission On Federal Election Reforms recommends that all states allow felons to regain their right to vote after completing their sentences. States respond with inconsistent laws, with some states making it more difficult for felons to regain their voting rights.
1990: The Americans With Disabilities Act requires accommodation of disabled voters. 1993: The National Voters Registration Act, also known as the Motor Voter Act, was designed to raise voter participation rates. It requires voter registration material to be provided at DMV's and other public agencies.
1971: After a long national debate that began in World War II and intensified during the Vietnam War, the 26th Amendment is ratified, extending the vote to citizens 18 years and older. 1975: The 1965 VRA is amended, requiring non-English language materials to be provided for "language minorities."
Five months after the national outrage caused by "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, AL, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 becomes law on August 6. Using Federal enforcement mechanisms, it bars changes that "deny or abridge the right of any citizen to vote on account of race or color." The 1970 Voting Rights Amendment bans any "literacy test."
1964: After eight months of bitter and contentious debate in Congress, the Civil Rights Act becomes law. It outlaws most forms of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also prohibits racial segregation and outlaws unequal application of voter registration requirements. The 24th Amendment is ratified, prohibiting states from denying the right to vote for failure to pay any poll tax.
In the face of fierce resistance, the grassroots effort to register African-Americans intensifies. Hundreds of volunteers of all races join the "Mississippi Freedom Summer" voting rights campaign. Ku Klux Klan members murder young volunteers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Neshoba County.
The McCarran Act of 1952 removes all racial restrictions of the 1790 Naturalization Law. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 prohibits intimidation, coercion and other forms of interference against persons in Federal elections.
1944: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that all-white primaries are unconstitutional (Smith v Allright). Plaintiff's counsel is NAACP LDF's Thurgood Marshall. 1945: WWII black GI's return to the U.S. after fighting to help preserve freedom in other countries. They immediately become a powerful voice in the freedom struggle for civil rights and voting rights in their own country.
1942: Due to the strategic importance of the Philippines in World War II, Filipinos in the U.S. and the Philippines are granted citizenship. 1943: The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 is repealed. 1946: WWII ends (1945) and the U.S. Government revokes Filipino citizenship under the 1946 Rescission Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court denies Asian-Americans (1922) and Asian Indians (1924) a path to citizenship -- and the vote -- based on race. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 grants citizenship to all Native-Americans born in the United States.
After decades of struggle and 42 years after the Woman's Suffrage Amendment was introduced in 1878, the 19th Amendment is finally ratified. It extends the vote to women on the same basis as men. However, Native-American, Mexican-American and African-American women (and men) were still subject to voter suppression tactics; and Chinese women (and men) would not be allowed to vote for another 33 years.