Legislation: Voting Rights Act of 1965
March 07,1965


The Voting Rights Act of 1965, “an act to enforce the 15th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States,” prohibited states from denying any person from exercising his or her right to vote on the basis of race or skin color. Specifically, the Act prohibited states from instituting voting requirements such as poll taxes and literacy tests, which had been previously used by Southern states to prevent African-Americans from voting. The Act also ordered that those states which had previously utilized voting requirements would be subject to oversight from the Department of Justice. In order to make any changes to the voting process, these states would first have to obtain permission from the Attorney General. After the election of President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, many civil rights groups called upon the President and Congress to pass legislation to protect the rights that are guaranteed to African-Americans by the 15th Amendment. Growing dissatisfaction over Southern discrimination resulted in demonstrations such as the Selma to Montgomery March. In an address to both the House and the Senate President Johnson called upon Congress to pass a strong voting rights bill. Senator Dole supported both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Although many of his constituents were vehemently opposed to both of these bills, Dole considers them to be two of the most important votes in his political career.