History of 1965 Voting Rights Act
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was instrumental in organizing a mass march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, that created national support for federal voting-rights legislation.
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Kentucky and Virginia – restrict the right to vote from those convicted of a criminal offense. In Florida, offenders who have completed their sentences have to wait at least another five years before they can even apply to restore their right to register to vote.
Across the US, more than 5 million Americans are denied the right to vote on grounds that they were convicted of a felony, 4 million of whom have fully completed their sentence and almost half of whom are black or Hispanic.
Other measures have reduced the ease of early voting, a convenience that is disproportionately heavily used by African-Americans. Even more importantly, 34 states have introduced a requirement that voters carry photo ID cards on the day of the election itself.
Studies have showed that the proportion of voters who do not have access to valid photo ID cards is much higher among older African-Americans because they were not given birth certificates in the days of segregation. Students and young voters also often lack identification and are thus in danger of being stripped of their right to vote.
Benjamin Jealous, the NAACP's president, said the moves amounted to "a massive attempt at state-sponsored voter suppression." He added that the organization will be urging the UN "to look at what is a coordinated campaign to disenfranchise persons of color."
The NAACP has teamed up with the National Urban League to sponsor the National Voter Empowerment Hotline 1-866-MyVote1 (1-866-698-6831).
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